Unsurprisingly, the fastest single sculler in the world has again won the Irish Indoor Rowing Championships. Sanita Puspure makes the 2020 Indoor Championships her fifth win in a row, a fantastic feat. The two time World Champion won the Women’s Open 2000m race in a time of 6:34.5 beating her Irish record of 6:35.9 which she set at the Irish Indoor Championships last year.
Aifric Keogh claimed silver, making it two years running, and in a time four seconds quicker than last year. Keogh finished in a time of 6:41.4, demonstrating great strength and fitness in the Olympic year. Keogh was sick during the 2019 summer season and it is great to see her back on form. Aifric Keogh finished in third place in the 2018 event, in a time of 6:59.0, showing how her dedication to training and development over the past two years has paid off.
Fiona Murtagh of NUIG pulled a strong 6:46.8, taking bronze. Murtagh did not compete in the 2019 event but in 2018, did a time of 6:59.0 (matching Aifric Keogh). She has also improved her score substantially.
The women’s high performance team is going from strength to strength this year and their vast improvements are showing. Under the Rowing Ireland training program, with athletes dedicating huge time and effort, they are certainly going to be a force to be reckoned with on the international stage.
Eimear Lambe took the step up from the U23 category, with Lambe improving her time by 6 seconds to finish in 6:52.8. Lambe finished out her U23 career on a high with a silver medal at the U23 World Championships. Lambe was closely followed by HP team mates Natalie Long (6:53.5), Monika Dukarska (6:54.6) and Aileen Crowley (6:55.9).
Emily Hegarty and Claire Feerick, also part of the World U23 medalling crew, took gold and silver respectively. Hegarty has won the U23 event since 2017, improving her time year on year. Feerick was unwell earlier in the week but still pulled an admirable time and bagged a silver medal. Feerick’s best at the Irish Indoor Championships was a 7:13.9 in 2019, and she has made tremendous strides since she first competed in the U23 category. Ava Kelly of UL took bronze in 7:18.4, beating team mate Georgia O’Brien by .6 of a second.
Unfortunately the women’s lightweight open event had only one competitor, Jessica Legresley of Shandon. Although the only competitor in the category, she delivered a fast time of 7:22.7, just five seconds off European silver medalist, Denise Walsh’s time in 2019. Denise Walsh was the only competitor in the event last year finishing in 7:17.1.
The Women’s J18 event had some impressive times, with Alison Bergin of Fermoy claiming gold in 7:09.3, Lucy McCoy of Belfast Boat Club winning silver in 7:11.2 and Holly Davis of Lee Valley winning bronze in 7:13.3. The future is bright for these young athletes and we encourage them to continue their participation in sport and look to the High Performance team for inspiration as rowing is at an all time high in Ireland.
The women’s high performance team has been outstanding this year and with Olympic qualifications for the single scull and pair event, World Championship medals for Sanita Puspure and Katie O’Brien, and U23 silver medals for Eimear Lambe, Claire Feerick, Tara Hanlon and Emily Hegarty. The road to Tokyo is truly underway and the team are giving it 100% at the National Rowing Centre in Cork.
The women’s four, unlucky to miss out on Olympic qualification when competing at the World Championships in August, will have the opportunity to qualify again in May. No seat is decided as new combinations are trialled but hopes are high for Olympic qualification. Antonio Maurogiovanni, Rowing Ireland High Performance Director, has commented that at this point it has not been decided whether the pair or four will be priority boat at the Olympics.