Paul and Gary O’Donovan celebrate with their gold medals. Photo: INPHO/Detlev Seyb
Cork brothers Gary and Paul O’Donovan have won gold in the lightweight double sculls at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
The Olympic silver medal-winning duo finished comfortably ahead of the Italian team who came second with Belgium in third.
The Skibbereen brothers finished strongly in the last 500m and looked at ease throughout the 2km race.
Speaking with RTE after their win, the pair said that a late night out til 2am set them up “for the best strokes we ever pulled in our lives”.
“I think we pulled our best strokes ever, out there, for 2,000 metres,” Gary said.
“This is my first ever world championship final and, I think, it’s Paul’s seventh. So my record is better than his, 100%. If I can keep that up, it’d be good.”
Speaking about their night-out, Paul said: “We were out on the town last night and we said to (the Norwegian team), ‘Big day tomorrow. We have to be on form’.”
“We headed away early, around 2 o’clock. We met the Norwegians on the way in and they said that by 3am Kristoffer (Brun) was buckled and needed to be substituted, early this morning. He was still hungover.”
Earlier, Emily Hegarty and Aifric Keogh finished sixth in the women’s pairs medal race at the Championships.
The pair, who took part in their first major final as a crew, said it was a “bittersweet experience”.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross congratulated the Irish rowing team and said they were “doing us all proud at the Championships.
“Before we take stock of the powerful and gutsy performances we have seen over the past days, I want to take a moment to congratulate Paul and Gary O’Donovan on claiming a gold medal in the lightweight men’s double sculls,” he said.
“We also have to recognise the wonderful performance of Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty, a terrific achievement and great progression for such a new crew, coming 6th at a World event.”