Sanita Puspure Wins Ireland’s Second Gold Medal
Sanita Puspure has today been crowned World Champion after winning Gold in the women’s single sculls. Following a week of highly impressive form, Puspure executed yet another dominant performance in the final in Plovdiv this morning, which saw her begin to edge ahead of the field from as early on as the 500 metre mark. This was to be the position she held for close to the entirety of the race, putting more and more water between herself and reigning Champion Gmelin of Switzerland, with other medal contenders Lobnig of Austria, Kohler of the USA and Denmark’s Erichsen never so much as threatening the Irish sculler who looked in control throughout. In the finish, Puspure crossed the line with four lengths and almost six seconds to spare ahead of Gmelin who took silver, followed by Lobnig who claimed the bronze. USA, Denmark and Germany followed, in that order.
Puspure was understandably emotional accepting her Gold medal and joins the O’ Donovan brothers, Gary and Paul, in becoming World Champion for 2018. The O’ Donovans had won Gold the day previous in the lightweight men’s double sculls.
Earlier this morning, Ireland had two other boats racing in finals. Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska had a comfortable win in the C Final of the women’s double sculls, placing them 13th overall at the Championships. Like Puspure, the Irish crew lead throughout and took the win by a margin of 2.74 seconds ahead of China in second and Italy in third, followed by Switzerland, Ukraine and Romania.
Shortly after this, Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne took to the water in the B Final of the men’s double sculls, where a third place finish positions them in 9th place overall at the end of the 2018 World Championships. Just .35 seconds separated the top two boats in this race, the Netherlands and Poland, with the Irish double finishing just over three seconds behind in third ahead of Norway, Estonia and Bulgaria. A highly encouraging result for this developing crew.
Rowing Ireland CEO, Michelle Carpenter, was thrilled with the Irish results after the weekend:
“It’s been an unprecedented weekend for Irish Rowing. To have won a gold medal yesterday in our first Olympic event was phenomenal, and to top it off today with Sanita’s resounding win was more than the icing on the cake.
We have all watched and supported Sanita over the years and we were empowered by her turn around and performance during this World Championships. It’s a proud day to be part of Irish Rowing - I hope every single club and organisation that are involved with us and are part of us will celebrate that success. Our thanks go to our supporters, in particular Sport Ireland, Sport NI and GVA Donal O'Buachalla who have always stood by our sport.”
As the 2018 World Rowing Championships conclude, Rowing Ireland athletes return home with two Gold medals and three further crews finishing within the top ten in their category, two of which also reached A Finals (top 6), as well as two C Final wins and invaluable racing experience as we look ahead to qualification for Tokyo 2020.
History was made in Irish rowing again today when Gary and Paul O’Donovan secured Ireland’s first World Championship gold medal in an Olympic event, winning the lightweight men’s double sculls in style.
The O'Donovan brothers knew they were in for a challenging race, after placing third in their semi final on Friday to qualify for the A final, but they had gold in their sight and were determined to win. The rowers who later joked live on RTE that they were out until 2am the night before the race, pulled out all the stops to cross the line first, two seconds ahead of the Italian crew who had held the lead until 1,500m only to place second, and Belgium who came third.
The Skibbereen brothers told RTE after the race that they were thrilled with the win but that they felt bad for Norway, who had been one of their main racing rivals, after they were forced to make a substitution late the night before the race due to illness.
Nonetheless, the O’Donovan brothers are delighted that they now each possess a World Championship gold medal. Paul previously won gold in the lightweight men’s single sculls in 2016 and 2017, however this was Gary’s first gold World Championship win.
Earlier in the day, Emily Hegarty and Aifric Keogh also played a part in Irish rowing’s history-making, racing as the first heavyweight women’s pair to reach a World Championship A final.
Hegarty and Keogh, a very new crew combination, had won their semi-final to qualify for the medals race but they knew they were up against stiff competition including reigning World Champions, New Zealand, and other fast crews including Canada and Spain.
In the end, Canada took the win with New Zealand in second. The Irish women crossed the line sixth, a position they had held throughout the race. It was an incredible achievement however for Hegarty, aged only 20 and Keogh, aged 26, to reach the A final at their first senior World Championships together and the experience will stand them in good stead for future events.
In the early afternoon, outgoing lightweight men’s pair World Champions, Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan placed 4th in the C Final of the heavyweight men’s pair behind Australia, Poland and USA in that order. The race gave the Irish men, who are still in the early stages of transitioning to heavyweight, a 16th place ranking in their category in a field of 23 international boats.
Speaking to RTE after their semi final race, Mark and Shane said they were “happy” with the progress they have been making in their weight category transition and that they “have to be patient and can’t expect overnight success.” Their objective for the year ahead is to gain more muscle mass and build their power and strength with the goal of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in the heavyweight men’s pair.
The last Irish race of the day saw Denise Walsh and Aoife Casey win the C Final of the lightweight women’s double and finish 13th overall at the World Championships event.
The girls who were disappointed not to make it into the A/B semi final, showed that they still have the potential to go further in a race that saw them move up the field from fourth place at 500m and third at 1,000m to cross the line first, three seconds ahead of Austria in second and Germany in third. It was also the lightweight women’s first World Championship event together and Aoife Casey’s first senior World Championship evet so the women will take plenty of learnings from the experience.
Rowing Ireland CEO, Michelle Carpenter, who is in Plovdiv with the team commented:
“I am absolutely thrilled with today’s results and the results so far over the weekend. It’s absolutely fantastic to see Gary and Paul win gold in an Olympic event here at the World Championships and to see Aifric and Emily place sixth in the women’s pair, another Olympic event, is incredible.
“We were asked to develop more Olympic boat classes and we have done not only that but to achieve these results in the first year of that development strategy is a plus.
“Huge credit goes to the team at clubs and Rowing Ireland. We have an amazing volunteer base to achieve what we achieve a huge thanks go to every single one of our members and friends.”
Racing concludes at the 2018 World Rowing Championships tomorrow, Sunday September 16th, with three Irish races including the A final medals race in which Sanita Puspure will contest in the women’s single sculls.
Ireland had another superb day at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv today with three boats now having qualified for medal contending A finals and two more yet to race in A/B semi-finals tomorrow morning (Friday) which could lead to further medal races.
Day five of the week-long regatta got off to a fantastic start when UCC’s Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle of QUBBC dominated their repechage of the men’s double, storming ahead of the field to establish a clear lead and win by more than three seconds, securing their place in tomorrow’s A/B semi-final
The recently formed heavyweight double, racing together in their first international and world level event, set out to make their mark today as they powered ahead of Egypt, Bulgaria, Argentina and Russia to lead by a good margin at the 500m mark. The Irish crew left no doubt as to their intention and potential, finishing the race with today's fastest qualifying repechage time. Switzerland, Poland, Estonia, Norway, France, Romania and Bulgaria also qualified following today's reps. They will join New Zealand, Netherlands, Great Britain and Germany in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
The Irish women’s pair of UCC’s Emily Hegarty and Aifric Keogh also gave an outstanding performance this morning, winning their semi-final to qualify for the A final on Saturday. The Irish pair, who were placing fifth throughout the majority of the race, looked like they might not get through to the medals race until the last 500m when they progressively pushed through the field, passing USA, Spain and finally Italy to cross the line first in an exhilarating tight finish, winning ahead of Italy by 0.2 seconds.
It’s an incredible achievement for this new crew combination of 20-year old Hegarty and 26 year-old Keogh, to reach the World Championship A final at this early stage of their crew development under the guidance of High Performance coach, David McGowan and Ireland High Performance director, Antonio Maurogiovanni.
Olympic Silver medalists Paul and Gary O’Donovan later gave a nail biting performance in the LM2x A/B semi-final, placing third to qualify for Saturday’s A final.
Only the top three boats were to progress to the medals race and the lightweight double, who were ranking fourth until the half-way mark, battled it out with Belgium for the second qualifying spot behind Italy who were out in front from the off. However, the O’Donovans - who had a tough race yesterday in challenging conditions - pulled out all the stops to stave off Poland and secure the third qualifying position. They will aim to make the most of tomorrow’s recovery day to be in peak condition for Saturday’s final.
In the early afternoon, Ireland’s lightweight women’s double of Denise Walsh and Aoife Casey won their C/D semi final ahead of Spain in second and Thailand in third, in the afternoon, to qualify for the C final of their event which takes place on Saturday.
That wasn’t long before the Irish heavyweight men’s pair and reigning lightweight World Champions, Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan, who had a tough race in the morning’s quarter final where they placed fifth, took to the water again for the C/D semi final.
The afternoon race saw them power down the course at an average rate of 44 strokes per minute. The Irish pair looked set to secure a comfortable second place behind Australia before Italy made a late challenge and crossed the line an identical time with the Irish boat. Australia, Italy and Ireland now all progress to Saturday’s C final where they will meet the USA, Poland and Brazil, all of whom had slightly slower times than Ireland in the semi-finals.
Men's Junior K1 - 2nd Ronan Foley
Women K1 - 5th Jenny Egan