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Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'Donovan, gold, on the podium for the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls PA
Gold for Ireland

'A tremendous achievement’: Ireland sends congratulations as Skibbereen pair take gold in Tokyo

President Michael D Higgins congratulated the pair on their “tremendous” achievement

MESSAGES OF CONGRATULATIONS are pouring in for Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy who were crowned Olympic champions in Tokyo this morning after winning the men’s lightweight double sculls final. 

President Michael D Higgins has led the messages of congratulations to the Skibbereen pair on winning Ireland’s first-ever rowing Olympic gold in Tokyo.

“After the magnificent success in women’s rowing yesterday, today we celebrate Ireland’s first Olympic gold medal in rowing, won so deservedly by Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy in the lightweight double sculls,” said President Higgins on Twitter.

“Theirs is a tremendous achievement, which gives great inspiration to young people and aspiring athletes all over Ireland.”

Germany, who had dominated the first half of the race, took second after a final surge from O’Donovan and McCarthy in the last 500m was enough for the pair to take gold.

“The Germans and Italians always have a quick start, so for the first time we had a quick start as well, not for lack of effort,” O’Donovan said after the race.

“It was a bit of a surprise that it paid off and we weren’t totally dropped in the first 500m, so that was good. And then we put the heads down and ploughed on so it was good.”

Reacting to the win, McCarthy said:

“It feels pretty good. We can’t complain! We had a really good race – but a tough one. The Germans were flying so it was hard. I was really excited when we first crossed the line and there was a bit of relief as well.

We have had a good time all week, so we are a bit sad that it is all over. We hadn’t had too much time to think about it but it feels pretty good and hopefully it will be that way for a while.

The pair told Morning Ireland their success was down to a combination of hard work and luck. 

 “You need a bit of luck. We were born into the place we were born into and there’s a rowing club nearby,” O’Donovan said.

“Fundamentally, we did a whole lot of training – that’s the main ingredient,” he said.

Fintan’s mother Sue told the same programme that pride doesn’t cover how the family are feeling, “it is so much more than that.”

“We hope beyond hope that they would [win]. They were on form, they’ve been on form all season, and it seemed that no one could touch them. So, we just hoped that would be the case again today. They didn’t let us down.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin offered his congratulations to the pair this morning, saying it will “inspire generations to come”.

An outstanding gold medal for Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy. Breathtaking victory in the lightweight double sculls – a race that will live long in history.

“A special day for Irish rowing and the Irish people,” he tweeted

“I’m so happy about it – I think the extraordinary commitment is something to behold. This will inspire generations to come,” Martin also told Newstalk Breakfast.

“To the people of Ireland, it’s a proud moment.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar tweeted: “Gold!!! What an outstanding result for Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan. World champions and now Olympic Gold!”. 

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South West Christopher O’Sullivan said the win was the “proudest ever moment in West Cork’s sporting history”.

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