This is turning out to be one of the great Irish sporting occasions. Ireland qualified two more boats at the World Rowing Championships here in Belgrade, bringing our definite starters in Paris 2024 to five boats – the most Ireland has ever qualified at this stage. Add in the mixed double which has qualified for the Paralympics and the chance of at least one more Olympic qualifier come the finals of the women’s four and lightweight double, and this is special.
The men’s double did their bit first. With the lanes redrawn again due to a bothersome wind, Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch were in lane three and the predictions were they might be in a battle with New Zealand in lane four for the crucial top-three place, with Spain and Croatia, who had the favourable lanes one and two, taking those spots. But Ireland crews right now are a confident bunch. Doyle and Lynch burst through to lead – marginally – from Croatia’s wonder boat of Valent Marin Sinkovic by half way. The Croatians went on to win and Ireland, in second, had another Paris boat in the bag.
“We’ve qualified this boat for the Olympics and we’re in a position now to do another job on Sunday [the A Final], hopefully push ourselves again, get into a nice position and show the speed we have. The hardest thing here is to perform on the day. Everything in preparation over the last few weeks is just focused on this moment. Hopefully we’ll just keep getting better and better.”
Next up were Alison Bergin and Zoe Hyde (pictured) in the women’s double. Their second place was just as impressive; the US crew of Kristina Wagner and Sophia Vitas took full advantage of lane one, and its shelter from the wind, to win. But Hyde and Bergin were second all the way – even if the graphics on the screen here at the course did not show it, as the GPS on their boat was not recorded.
The Ireland crew even took on the Americans at the end, and were not far behind.
“We are thrilled! We tried to push all the way through the race, and it paid off,” Bergin said.
Jake McCarthy has not had the Championships he would have hoped for. The men’s lightweight single sculls had a huge entry and ran to five finals (A to E). McCarthy competed in the D Final today. There were five scullers, as Finlay Hamill of New Zealand withdrew on medical grounds. Oskar Soedal of Norway won well. McCarthy, in the tough lane five, finished fifth, 23rd overall.
Ireland’s Siobhán McCrohan has a chance to add the first medal to the mix when she competes in the final of the lightweight women’s single at 2.15 Irish time..