Great Britain

Tokyo 2020: Ireland win first gold medal as O’Donovan and McCarthy sail to historic double sculls rowing victory

JAKE McCARTHY stole the show after his brother Fintan claimed Ireland's first Olympic gold medal since London 2012.

Fintan teamed up with Paul O'Donovan to secure top prize in the lightweight double sculls.

But brother Jake made his mark by gatecrashing a TV interview with his parents.

Sue and Tom spoke to RTE about Fintan's success, but fellow-rower Jake jumped into the shot to celebrate.

After cheering at the camera he asked: "Who's asking this? Where are we coming from?"

And when asked how he planned to celebrate his brother's historic achievement Jake admitted it was a strange feeling watching it all late at night.

He added: "We don't really know to be honest, we're just at the house. It's all over now and we're kind of thinking, 'Oh, what do we now?'

"It's nearly 3am and nobody's here so we can't really do anything."

Cork duo McCarthy and O'Donovan - both from the small town of Skibbereen with a population of 3,000 - had to respond after strong starts by both Germany and Italy but held on for a historic victory.

The Italians were overtaken first but the Germans proved more difficult to shake with the lead exchanging hands a couple of times before the Irish took control.

O’Donovan said: "The race plan we had, we do it all the time and it seems to work out okay for us.

"We kind of know that Italy and Germany always go hard, you can count on that. Then they slow down a bit.

You don’t really take in the history of the moment

Paul O'Donovan

“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.”

McCarthy added: "It feels really good.

"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."

Their gold medal - Ireland’s tenth - came just a day after they had claimed a world-leading time in their semi-final.

For O’Donovan, it is his second Olympic medal, after he won silver in Rio when brother Gary was his partner in the boat.

He is only the third Irish competitor to win medals at different Games, after Pat O’Callaghan who won gold in 1928 and 1932 and Paddy Barnes who took bronze in 2008 and 2012.

O’Donovan added: "I don’t really think about medals at all.

“We are just here trying to be the best we can be and hopefully, that will be the best of them. Today it was. We are pleased with it.

"You don’t really take in the history of the moment. You’d be well tired after the race."


But there was more Olympic disappointment for Sanita Puspure in her third Games.

The Latvian-born rower fell at the quarter-final stage in both London and Rio but had since won two World and European Championships.

Although she had won both her heat and quarter-final, she was well off the pace in the semi-final, coming fifth when she needed a top-three finish to reach the single skulls A final.

It appears as though the 12-month delay in hosting the Games because of Covid-19 did not help the 39-year-old and it is a major blow for her to find herself in the B final.

Elsewhere, lightweight sculls pair Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen came second in their B final to finish eighth overall, a solid showing in their first Games.


Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska were fifth in the women’s pair B final, to finish 11th overall.

From a British perspective, mum-of-three Helen Glover and partner Polly Swann missed out on a memorable medal, finishing fourth in the coxless pair.

And there was pure heartbreak for the lightweight double scull of Emily Craig and Imogen Grant as they missed out on a medal by just ONE HUNDREDTH of a second.

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