Sunday was the day that Ireland boats completed the set – all six boats have reached the semi-final or better at Tokyo 2020, with the women’s four already qualified for an A Final.
That race will be on Wednesday, a packed day of action now that the programme has been rejigged because Tuesday’s racing is lost due to a bad weather forecast (See Below)
Sunday encompassed a fine performance by Sanita Puspure (pictured), who vaulted past the worry (engendered in Rio 2016) that quarter-finals in Olympic Games were cursed. She won this one.
However, there was also disappointment. Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne have never quite felt the ‘click’ in Tokyo they say accompanies the form that sent them to this Games as one of the favourites for a medal in the double sculls. They faltered in their heat and came to the semi-finals through a repechage.
This semi got away from them. Poland and then France powered ahead, but the Irish, in an outside lane, were not part of the leading trio. Britain, who Ireland have consistently mastered in recent years, slotted in between winners France and Poland, with Ireland taking sixth.
Two Ireland crews had big smiles on their faces. Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen spent most of their repechage safely in a qualifying place for their semi-final. They finished third behind Switzerland and Russia, well clear of the chasing pack.
Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley blasted out of the start of the women’s pairs repechage with fierce determination that they too would be in the semi-final. Crowley joked that the message was “don’t finish last” and they did not. They were a clear third of four crews, with China missing out.
Puspure might have admitted that she had started the day thinking about staying clear of previous failures, but its end she could focus on her real chance of a medal, perhaps the very best one. In today’s race she passed and beat Kara Kohler of the United States (who took silver to Puspure’s bronze in their last encounter at the World Cup in Lucerne).
Kohler, and the rest of the contenders, remain real threats. The most potent of all may be the Russian, Hannah Prakatsen, who led in Carling Zeeman of Canada and Britain’s Victoria Thornley in the fastest quarter-final – another win for a woman who came from nowhere in single sculls terms to win all her races this year so far.
The other heat winners were Emma Twigg of New Zealand, who won in faster time than Puspure’s, and Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig.
Puspure will meet Prakatsen in a very promising semi-final. This is now fixed for Thursday (2.30 Irish time) in the rejigged schedule, with the A Final to take place on Friday.
Thursday will now be a massive day for Ireland crews. The men’s lightweight double sculls A Final – which should see Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy contending for a gold medal – is fixed for 1.50 am, Irish time.
The A Final for the women’s pair (1.30) and lightweight women’s double (2.10) sit either side of this race. The B Finals for all these crews are set to run from 12.40 am to 1 am.
Wednesday gives Ireland its first chance to take a medal, with the women’s four competing in the A Final (1.50). There are also semis and a B Final.
Wednesday (times Irish)
0.20 – B Final, Men’s Double
1.50 – A FINAL, Women’s Four
3.30 – Semi-Final, Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls
3.40 – Semi-Final, Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls
4.20 – Semi-Final, Women’s Pair
0.40 – B Final, Women’s Pair
0.50 – B Final, Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls
2.00 – B Final, Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls
1.30 – A FINAL, Women’s Pair
1.50 – A FINAL, Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls
2.10 – A FINAL, Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls
2.30 – Semi-Final – Women’s Single Sculls