#Rowers of the Year: The Afloat Rowers of the Year for 2016 are Paul O’Donovan and Gary O’Donovan. Between them they brought Ireland two gold medals and two silvers at top international events in 2016.
The highlight was the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August for the Ireland lightweight double. The O’Donovan brothers covered the early part of the race more in contact with the field than has become their normal style and in an exciting finish they split gold medallists France and bronze medallists Norway to become the first Irish rowers to mount the podium at an Olympic Games.
Paul O’Donovan has spoken more than once about the frustration of watching that race, as he did not win. The 22-year-old UCD oarsman is phenomenally disciplined in pursuit of his sporting goals. He showed this in 2016 by travelling on from Rio de Janeiro to Rotterdam to compete in the lightweight single sculls at the World Championships. He won every race there. He let the race develop in front of him in the final and then sprinted past the other competitors to win by a clear water margin. He was the only rower to compete successfully at World Championship and Olympic level in 2016.
The O’Donovans had laid down their markers early on as a lightweight double: they took silver behind South Africa at the World Cup in Varese in Italy and then beat Norway to take gold at the European Championships in Brandenburg in Germany. The wild conditions were frightening for some, but the two men from west Cork made light of them. Whatever the weather, they are competitors.
Two of the best Ireland has seen.
The O’Donovans are the Afloat Rowers of the Year 2016.
Rower of the Month awards: The judging panel is made up of Liam Gorman, rowing correspondent of The Irish Times, and David O'Brien, editor of Afloat magazine. Monthly awards for achievements during the year appeared on afloat.ie.