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Historic first ever Irish Olympic rowing medal for UCD student O’Donovan

Posted: August 12, 2016

  • UCD student Paul O'Donavan and brother Gary win Olympic silver in rowing double sculls
  • Brothers are first ever Irish athletes to secure an Olympic rowing medal
  • Graduate Claire Lambe and partner Sinead Jennings finish sixth in Women's final

University College Dublin student Paul O’Donovan and his brother Gary have won an Olympic silver medal in the Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls rowing final.

The historic achievement by the 22-year-old fourth-year UCD Physiotherapy student and his 23-year-old brother represents Ireland’s first ever Olympic medal in rowing.

Pictured top: Gary O'Donovan (right) hugs his brother and UCD student Paul in celebration after the Corkmen finished second in the Men's Lightweight Double Sculls Final, taking silver and winning Ireland's first ever medal in Olympic rowing; and below right, UCD graduate Claire Lambe (left) hugs rowing partner, Sinead Jennings, after they finished sixth in the Women's Olympic Lightweight Double Sculls final

The Co Cork duo narrowly missed out on an Olympic gold medal when they were pipped to first place by the French crew in the closing metres. Pierre Houin and Jeremie Azou of France, who won gold, were just 0.53 seconds ahead of the brothers at the finish line. Norway finished in third place.

“We’re still trying to come to terms with it. We wanted to win gold medal but to come away with the silver, we’re just so happy,” said Paul after the final.

“We are a little bit disappointed we didn’t come away with the gold medal. We’re afraid to go home, Mick Conlan said he’d box the head off us if we didn’t win gold!”

Paul, a native of Lisheen, near Skiberreen, Co Cork, is also an Ad Astra Elite Athlete scholar at UCD.

He won bronze at the Under-23 World Championships in 2013 in the lightweight single sculls and finished fourth in the same competition and discipline in 2014.

Just minutes before the men’s historic victory, recent UCD graduate Claire Lambe and her rowing partner, Sinead Jennings, finished in sixth place in the Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls Olympic final.

The Irish pair had a decent start and were still in with a chance, staying with the leading group until halfway, but their challenge faded in the second 1500 metres.

Netherland’s Isle Paulis and Maike Head secured gold, while Canada came second and China finished third.

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations