Ireland's Michelle Smith kisses her gold medal at the side of the Olympic swimming pool after winning the 100m freestyle. PA

'I will always be proud of what I achieved': Michelle Smith congratulates rowers on success

Michelle Smith won three gold medals in the 1996 games.

TRIPLE OLYMPIC GOLD medalist Michelle Smith has congratulated Ireland’s rowers on their medals.

Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan won the men’s lightweight double sculls in the early hours of Wednesday morning to take home Ireland’s tenth ever gold medal and first Olympic gold in rowing.

Smith won three gold medals in Atlanta 1996. Two years after her victory at the Olympics, Smith was banned for four years by swimming’s governing body FINA for tampering with a urine sample. Her appeal against this ban was dismissed.

The swimmer kept her three gold and one bronze medal from the 1996 games.

In a statement released by Smith to RTE’s Liveline yesterday, Smith said she wanted “to congratulate our brilliant rowers, Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan, on their wonderful achievement in becoming Ireland’s newest Olympic Champions. What a stunning performance”.

Twenty-five years ago this week, Smith said she became the first Irish woman to win an Olympic Gold medal.

“By the end of that week in Atlanta, I had become a Triple Olympic Champion. It was the culmination of seventeen years training and dedication to my sport. Standing on the podium, watching the tricolour being raised and listening to Amhrán na bhFiann was and still is, the proudest moment of my life.

“Twenty-five years have passed and people still stop to tell me where they were when I won my medals. I will always be incredibly proud of what I achieved in Atlanta and remain touched by the level of support still shown to me by the people of Ireland.”

Earlier this week, Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty did enough to earn a well-deserved bronze medal.