July 29, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
Irish rowers Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy made history last night by clinching gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Corkmen powered to victory in the lightweight double sculls to claim Ireland’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in rowing.
The win sealed Ireland’s tenth Olympic medal of all time – and the first since boxer Katie Taylor won lightweight gold at the London Games in 2012.
The pair, from Skibbereen in West Cork, were heavy favorites going into the race and displayed nerves of steel to pip the German duo who had to settle for silver.
Germany got off to a flying start and led for most of the race before O’Donovan and McCarthy reigned them in just before the 1500 meter mark and then pulled clear inside the final 500 meters.
“The race plan we had, we do it all the time and it seems to work out okay for us,” O’Donovan told RTÉ afterward.
“We kind of knew that Italy and Germany always go hard, you can count on that. Then they slow down a bit. Once we were catching up to them, we knew that we were at a sustainable pace and kept going. Germany made it hard for us, that’s for sure.”
“It feels really good,” McCarthy added.
“It is bizarre, I have been pretty chilled out all day. Usually, I would be a bit more nervous. I felt really prepared and you know how that expectation and stuff doesn’t really weigh too heavily on us. We just do what we always do as best we can and it worked.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin described the win as a “breathtaking victory.”
OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS! 🥇
What a morning in Tokyo as Fintan McCarthy & Paul O’Donovan claimed gold to be crowned Olympic champions in a thrilling Lightweight Men’s Double final that saw them cross the line in a time of 6:06.43.
— Team Ireland (@TeamIreland) July 29, 2021