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row on 'All we can do is listen to what they're saying' - Paul O'Donovan remains focused on Tokyo Olympics

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Olympic silver medallist and FBD Insurance ambassador, Paul O'Donovan who today announced the recipients of the FBD Make a Difference programme to assist Olympic hopefuls in their preparation for the Olympic Games. Photo: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

Olympic silver medallist and FBD Insurance ambassador, Paul O'Donovan who today announced the recipients of the FBD Make a Difference programme to assist Olympic hopefuls in their preparation for the Olympic Games. Photo: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

Olympic silver medallist and FBD Insurance ambassador, Paul O'Donovan who today announced the recipients of the FBD Make a Difference programme to assist Olympic hopefuls in their preparation for the Olympic Games. Photo: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

Olympic silver medallist Paul O'Donovan remains focused on the Tokyo Games despite increasing doubts over whether they will go ahead this summer. 

The Skibbereen oarsman revealed that though he stays in touch with the on-going saga surrounding the summer Games he is not obsessing about it.

"For us athletes all we can do is listen to what they're saying. Thomas Bach (President of the International Olympic Committee) and the Prime Minister Suga in Japan are saying they're planning to go ahead with the Games," he said.

"So as long as they're saying that we have to plan to do the same. We just have to do that for the time being and see what happens."

Traditionally the elite Irish rowers would train in Spain in December and January but due to Covid-19 they have continued their preparation at the National Rowing Centre in Cork.

"The weather has been reasonably nice the past few months in that it's been quite calm, especially in the mornings. We've been able to get out in the boat a lot whereas sometimes at this time of the year it’s a bit windy and too choppy on the water to do any productive rowing, so you spend a lot of time indoors."

Together with his brother Gary, Paul finished second in the lightweight double sculls at the Rio Games in 2016 to secure Ireland's first ever Olympic medal in rowing.

But though the boat is guaranteed a place in the Olympic regatta in Tokyo if the Games go ahead the composition of the crew will not be announced until the end of March.

Paul O'Donovan, who has taken a sabbatical from his medical studies, to focus exclusively on rowing is in pole position to secure one of the spots but the other place is up for grabs.

Initially there were five oarsmen in contention but Shane O'Driscoll who won a gold medal in the lightweight pairs at both the European and World championships in 2018, left the training group last summer to take full-time employment as an engineer.

Apart from the O'Donovan brothers, the other two still in contention are the McCarthy twins, Fintan and Jake.

"Unfortunately, Jake had a disc injury in his back during the summer, so he's been spending a lot of the time this winter recovering from that and doing bits on the stationary bike. He's back in the boat a bit more often now and he's training with the group," he said.

"But he's not done any testing or anything like that yet. So, it's yet to be seen how he will shape up in the next few weeks. The rest of us are all in good health and we've been training well and mixing up combinations and they all seem to have some reasonable speed so it’s not looking too bad."

Speaking at the announcement of the recipients of the FBD Make a Difference programme, O'Donovan said the crews have been doing monthly assessments mostly on rowing machines but he expects they will be doing trials on the water at the end of January.

"Then it's something similar in February and we'll do the final selection trial at the end of March. That should hopefully be the crew then to go forward because I think the racing season starts in Europe around April," he said.

"We'd like to have the crew settled by then so they can do a few races and a good training camp before the Games and head on from there," he said.

  • Olympic silver medallist and FBD Insurance ambassador, Paul O'Donovan has announced the recipients of the FBD Make a Difference programme, in conjunction with the Olympic Federation of Ireland. This fund will assist Olympic hopefuls in their preparation for the Olympic Games.

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