Paul O’Donovan and Vintan McCarthy did it again. Skibbereen’s husband completed his dominance of the men’s lightweight dual rowing boats with an Irish gold medal at the European Championships in Varese, Italy.
He is the second European-level O’Donovan gold medal for four world golds and an Olympic silver medal from Rio, making him one of the most decorated world-class athletes in Irish sporting history.
McCarthy is adding his European gold to the world championships he won in 2019 with O’Donovan on a boat that has Olympic hopes of winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
They were joined on the last day of the race by four wives, Emily Hegarty, Emer Lambie, Evrique Kew and Fiona Mortag, who came from a sick patient and began to work hard in the race and clinch a silver medal. Only a canvas separated them from the Dutch winners, with two Irish boats and six Irish athletes awarding medals in the European Championships.
“It was an amazing race,” said O’Donovan with long hair and a beard, giving little humor after the hymn. “I was out last season, so Fintan was single last year. Fintan is pulling me twice. We need bigger biceps. We’ll be working on a number of braids that will last until the end of summer.
Ireland rolled off quietly in the men’s 2000m behind the German speedboat, and Odonovan and McCarthy found themselves in third place early on. But in the 1000 meters, they settled comfortably in second place, less than a second behind the Germans still in the lead.
Without a fanfare, the duo maintained their pace and worked their way up to number one at a distance of 1,500 meters, about a second ahead of that point. But far from slowing down, the boat increased its speed over the past 300 meters to easily take gold at 6: 18.14, more than a second faster than the second-placed Germans.
The women’s quartet of Hegarty, Lambi, Kew and Mortag did everything they could except to push the Dutch boat into second place in the final with a controlled rise during the final quarter of the tournament.
The Irish boat took third place in the first 500 meters in a new Olympic event. However, in the third quarter, Ireland began to take its steps, as Britain first set the 1,500-meter mark and crawled onto the main boat of the Netherlands.
Ireland had enough energy and balance over the past few hundred meters to propel the Dutch to the end, easily taking second place and a silver medal, with the winning boat holding them with a piece of cloth.
The first and second places were two fractions of the second place separately, with the Dutch winner returning home with a score of 6: 27.51, behind Ireland with 6: 27.96.
“This year’s medal means a lot to us because we are close to qualifying for the Olympics,” said Kyu afterwards. “Many crews from Ireland are already qualified, and being able to finish close to the Dutch is a huge confidence boost.”
Paul O’Donovan’s brother, Gary, had hoped for the medal, but finished fourth in the men’s lightweight rowing boats final. Skibbereen rowing was late for most of the race, and although he came with a late attack, he was unable to regain Polish Artur Mikulajczewski from third place. Hungary won the race with a time of 7:01:52, and Odonovan withdrew by more than four seconds with 7: 05.82.
“I wish I were in the medals,” said O’Donovan. “Winning was fun. I was right in every race. It was not my best race ever. But it was a step in the right direction compared to my previous international singles race. I am now closer to the big players than I was before.”
In the women’s lightweight single rowing boat final, UCC Rowing Club Lydia Heavy finished sixth with a time of 7: 58.70, while Ronan Byrne’s husband and Phil Doyle won the double-row final, with Dyer Lynch second. Men’s class final c.
M1x: Dyer Lynch – Final Jim – Runner-up
M2x: Phil Doyle and Ronan Byrne – Final B – 1st place
LW1: Lydia Heavy – Final – 6th place
LM1x: Gary O’Donovan – Final – 4th place
W2: Monica Dukarska and Eileen Crowley – Final – 6th place
W4: Emily Hegarty, Emer Lambie, Avery Q and Fiona Mertag – Final – Runner-up – Silver Medalists
LW2x: Aoife Casey & Margaret Cremen – Finale – 5e
LM2x: Paul O’Donovan and Vientan McCarthy – Final – 1st place – gold medalists