#Rowers of the Month: The Afloat Rowers of the Month for September are the Ireland men’s and women’s lightweight double sculls (Paul and Gary O’Donovan; Sinéad Jennings and Claire Lambe) which qualified their boats for the Olympic Games. Both crews faced challenges in their quest to be in the top 11 at the World Championships in Aiguebelette; both overcame them.
Jennings, a mother of three young children and a doctor, returned to the sport last year targeting a place in Rio. She broke a rib early this year. For another athlete this might have meant abandoning her punishing schedule. Jennings (then 38) redoubled her efforts. She excelled on the Wattbike at the Irish Indoor Championships and competed at the European Championships in a lightweight single. She came through a two-race trial to qualify for the lightweight double. Lambe and Jennings teamed up at the World Cup in Lucerne and finished seventh. It was a promising result, but this was their first time competing together. In the semi-final at the World Championships, they were outsprinted to the line by Canada, and missed out on an A Final spot. For the B Final, the tactics were to be in the leading group until the end. They did it. Their third place secured the precious slot in Rio for the Ireland women’s lightweight double.
Paul and Gary O’Donovan produced one of the greatest performances in Irish rowing by taking third place in their quarter final in Aiguebelette. With just a season of competition as a crew behind them, Gary (22) and Paul (21) were able to find a sprint finish which ousted New Zealand from a chance of qualifying their boat. In the B Final, the O’Donovan brothers stayed with the leaders until the finishing sprint, where they showed tremendous grit to take fifth (11th overall), .28 of a second ahead of Greece.
Well done to all the Ireland team and to the two crews which are the Afloat Rowers of the Month.
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 will appear on afloat.ie and the overall national award will be presented to the person or crew who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results in, or made the most significant contribution to rowing during 2015. Keep a monthly eye on progress and watch our 2015 champions list grow.