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Ireland Secures First Boat for Paris 2024 Paralympics

5th September 2023
Galway Rowing Rowing Club rowers Katie O'Brien and Steven McGowan have qualified Ireland in the PR2 mixed double at the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade
Galway Rowing Rowing Club rowers Katie O'Brien and Steven McGowan have qualified Ireland in the PR2 mixed double at the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade

Galway Rowing Rowing Club rowers Katie O'Brien and Steven McGowan have secured Ireland's first boat for the upcoming Paralympic Games in Paris 2024.

The duo competed in the PR2 mixed double at the World Rowing Championships and emerged victorious, earning the sole qualifying position for the 2024 Paralympics.

It's been 11 years since Ireland has had a crew compete in the Paralympics, with the PR3 mixed coxed four in London 2012. But O'Brien and McGowan's inspiring performance has ensured that the country will be represented once again next year.

Katie O'Brien had been unable to find a double partner prior to the Tokyo Olympics, but she finally realized her dream at this year's World Championships. Meanwhile, Steven McGowan, who only picked up the sport less than two years ago, has made remarkable progress to compete at the level he is now.

The Irish duo had a strong start in their heat and were right in the mix with World Cup III bronze medallists Michal Gadowski and Jolanta Majka of Poland. The 2022 World Champions, Ukraine, were unable to keep up with the pace that was set and struggled to move into the top grouping. With only one crew to progress straight into the A Final, O'Brien and McGowan had to make a move to put themselves in the lead spot. And through the third 500m, Ireland was the fastest boat on the water, pushing their bow ahead of Poland. In the end, O'Brien and McGowan secured the ticket to Paris, leaving no chance for their competitors to catch up.

Fiona Murtagh and Aifric Keogh, another Galway pairing, also performed remarkably in the women's pair repechage. With an incredible start, they led the field by over two seconds by the first 500m mark. Italy's Aisha Rocek and Alice Codato tried to catch up with Fiona and Aifric, but they failed to break their lead. With their first-place finish, the Irish duo qualified for the A/B Semis on Thursday morning.

However, the men's four of John Kearney, Jack Dorney, Adam Murphy, and Fionnán McQuillan-Tolan missed out on the A/B Semis. They will race the C Final after finishing fifth in their repechage. The crew had a promising start, sitting in second place through the halfway point. But all the crews stayed in contention, and coming into the last quarter, Ireland had moved back to fifth place. There wasn't enough left to push into the top three for a spot in the A/B Semi.

In the men's quad, Brian Colsh, Andrew Sheehan, Ronan Byrne, and Konan Pazzaia had a fourth-place finish in their repechage, missing out on the A/B Semi. As the race progressed, Ireland made their way closer to the top three, and in the final 500m, they were the fastest boat on the water. But it wasn't enough to edge them ahead of the American crew.

Overall, it was a great day for Irish rowing, with O'Brien and McGowan securing the first boat for the country in the 2024 Paralympics. The country will be looking forward to more success in the coming days of the World Rowing Championships.

Day 3 Results (Irish interest)

PR2 Mixed Double Heat 1st -> A Final and Paralympic Qualification
Women's Pair Repechage 1st -> A/B Semi
Men's Four Repechage 5th -> C Final
Men's Quad Repechage 4th -> C Final

Wednesday Schedule (IST)
11:43am - Lightweight Men's Scull Quarterfinal
11:50am - Lightweight Men's Double Quarterfinal
12:18pm - Men's Pair Quarterfinal
12:53pm - Men's Double Quarterfinal

Published in Rowing Team

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