Olympics 2016

O'Donovan brothers create history with silver medal capture in Rio

Paul and Gary O'Donovan show their hard-earned silver medals
Paul and Gary O'Donovan show their hard-earned silver medals

Brothers Gary and Paul O'Donovan from Skibbereen in County Cork have created Irish sporting history by winning a silver medal in the lightweight double sculls at the Olympic regatta in Rio. It is the first ever Olympic medal for Irish rowing.

After a dramatic final, the Irish boat finished less than a second behind the new Olympic champions France with Norway in third place.

The Irish brothers made a characteristically slow start and were fourth after the 500m mark but only 1.41 seconds behind the French.

They were still in fourth spot at the half way mark but as they had done in the semi-final, they upped the ante at the business end of the racing and were consistently travelling faster than any of the other two boats.

By the 1500m mark they were in the silver medal position and were hunting down the French who looked by be tiring. Now travelling at 18 kph the Irish boats was rapidly closing on the long time leaders but the French just held them off. Ireland finished second in 6.31.23.

It was a heroic and history performance from the O'Donovan brothers, who only starting to concentre on the double sculls a couple of years ago but underlined their potential when they won the European championships earlier this summer.

The history making O'Donovans have no intention on resting on their laurels despite the historic nature of their silver medal performance.

Once again displaying their deadpan sense of humour, Gary said: "Ah sure, it's been a good year."

He added: "It's been a great year. European champions and Olympic silver medallists.

"Hopefully there is more to come in the future.

"It was our goal since we qualified. We finished 11th in the world championships and our goal was to win the Olympics but we're not going home disappointed with a silver medal at all."

According to Paul they weren't too sure themselves about how the race was unfolidng.

"We didn't know too much of what's going on but the French are a brilliant side.

"They just had a bit more left in the last 100m and they pulled away.

"They had a fantastic race and are great guys.

"We're happy with our result."