In 2016 the O’Donovan twins burst into the Irish sporting consciousness securing a silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games. They were followed by Sanita Puspure and others as the sport grabbed hold of the momentum that was there and produced more and more performances of not at European and World level.
This weekend they secured the fifth and sixth boats to qualify to race at the Tokyo Olympic Games. This is a level of achievement which is among the greatest that Ireland has ever achieved at this level.
It will see eleven athletes representing Ireland on the Sea Forest waterway of Tokyo Bay. To put that in perspective we had eight boxers in Rio and six in London 2012.
Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty will represent Ireland having won the final race in the Women’s Qualification regatta in Lucerne.
There was even greater drama in the lightweight Women’s Double where Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen came from behind to grab the third and final qualification spot in their category.
Eimear Lambe is following in the oar strokes of her sister Claire who competed in Rio and is now the Women in Sport Lead with Rowing Ireland.
“I can’t even!!! Heart bursting with pride of my sister @EimearLambo and her crew qualifying for the Olympics this morning and then followed by such a gutsy performance by Aoife and Margaret to secure their place too! Team Ireland will need a bigger plane!” she tweeted after the morning’s events.
“When we said in 2019 that we would qualify 5-7 boats for the Olympics everyone thought that was unobtainable,” said Rowing Ireland CEO Michelle Carpenter.
“Today, due to the stamina and undefinable dedication the team achieved that. It is been a difficult 12 months for everyone in sport with isolation of our team and coaching staff and we are ecstatic about the results.”
“We have now raised the bar and with less than 70 days to Tokyo, the focus will now be on results there.”
“The greater rowing community of athletes and clubs our friends, families, incredible sponsors, partners and key stakeholders has played a hugely part in achieving where we are today. There are a huge amount of volunteers who give their time from the board of Rowing Ireland to coaches and club supporters across the country thank you and to our Core and HP team I’m truly humbled.”
The clock is ticking towards the summer and the delayed Games. Ireland is sending a team that will have more bodies and more stories than ever before. It promises to be a summer to remember.
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