Fintan McCarthy (left) and Paul O’Donovan of Ireland on their way to victory in the semi-finals in the men’s lightweight double scull from second place Italy at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Photo by Seb Daly / Sportsfile
Gold medal favorites Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy underscored why they are such a sought-after team with a convincing double scull semi-final victory in Tokyo in a world best time of 5/6/33 Silver medalists five years ago when Paul O’Donovan and brother Gary were in the boat, the new pair looks like an even more impressive combination.
The Italian duo resisted most of the race before the Irish on the last Sprinted 500 meters away for a comfortable win.
In the first semi-final, however, there was a big surprise when the highly rated Norwegian crew – who finished third in Rio – capsized in the final phase of the race in the sprint to the finish line.
They have been rescued, but they are excluded from the final tomorrow morning (Irish time).
The Norwegians were seen as a threat to Ireland’s gold medal prospects and theirs Absence of the means that the Irish duo will go into as even cheaper favorites.
So Ireland will face Italy, Belgium, Germany, Uruguay and the Czech Republic. It is likely that the Italians and Germans pose the greatest threats to Ireland’s dream of the first gold medal in rowing.
But the fate of the Norwegian couple is a reminder that anything can happen on the water, so the Irish couple nothing can be taken for granted and wins.
Paul O’Donovan reacted with the usual reluctance to the crew’s world record.
“You should be (pleased). You really can’t get upset about that. I suppose the more important race is tomorrow for the medals and not the times today. We’re not getting that excited yet.
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“I’ve had a few glances at the course to be honest. I saw some good splits but then (we) hit a few waves too. I actually saw the time at the end and said it to Paul. But with the confirmation we had to wait until we got in, “said his team-mate Fintan McCarthy.
” Then we just tried to be ahead of them, I assume. In the semifinals you will always push something; they will never be easy.
In response to the Norwegian crew disembarking, O’Donovan said that this illustrates that anything can happen.
“I think there were a few other incidents around this morning the race there with other countries. They are really crazy accidents, there is not much you can do to avoid them, so you have to take it as it comes, “said Paul, who said with a wink that they had been to a party with the unfortunate Norwegians last night.
For the other two Irish teams in the semifinals, there was no joy in the semifinals.
The light double scull of Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremin finished fifth and will row in the B-final, while the ladies pair Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska also finished fifth and will now compete in the B final. The doubles of the gentlemen of Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne finished their program with fourth place in the B-final and finished tenth overall.
The four-man team of Irish women rowed their way into Irish sports history in Tokyo and won a great bronze medal on the Sea Forest Waterway.
Four lives, four stories meandering in very different ways to the same destination – some of us outside the isolated world of Irish rowing had really seen it coming. But the people in this tent had whispered it softly for a long time, consciously not to scream too loudly so as not to hex it: There was something very special about this Irish female foursome.
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