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Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy win Ireland’s first Olympic rowing gold medal


Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy have created history by winning Ireland’s first-ever gold medal in rowing at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Skibbereen duo have become the second team of athletes to win a medal for Ireland at this year’s Olympics, after fellow rowers Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty won bronze yesterday in the women’s coxless four event.

O’Donovan and McCarthy were speaking to RTE just moments after securing their gold medals and both cut relaxed figures despite the momentous occasion.

‘We do it all the time and it seems to work out for us.’

“That’s the race plan we had, we do it all the time and it seems to work out okay for us,” O’Donovan said.

“We kind of know 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 kind of knew that we were at a sustainable pace and kept going. Germany made it hard, for sure.”

Weight of expectations proved to be no problem for O’Donovan and McCarthy.

The Irish duo were the favourites to win the gold medal at this year’s Olympics, although the pair handled the pressure of expectations very well.

“I’ve kind of been thinking about it all day but it’s bizarre, I’ve been pretty chilled out. Usually, I would feel a bit more nervous than this but I guess I felt really prepared,” McCarthy explained.

“All the expectations and all that stuff doesn’t really weigh too heavily on us, we just do what we always do and do the best that we can and it worked, I guess.”

O’Donovan will add his gold medal to the silver medal he won alongside his brother Gary at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, while McCarthy can count his first appearance at the Olympics as a resounding success.

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