Paul O’Donovan jokes mum won’t be happy despite Olympic gold for Ireland

Olympic champion Paul O’Donovan expects to receive the wrath of his mother when he returns to Ireland with his gold medal.

By Nick Mashiter
Thursday, 29th July 2021, 12:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 12:04 pm

O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy won a thrilling lightweight double sculls final in Tokyo on Thursday to claim their country’s first Olympic gold medal since 2012.

The pair became the first male Irish gold medallists since boxer Michael Carruth in 1992 after beating Germany by just 0.86 seconds at the Sea Forest Waterway on Thursday.

But 27-year-old O’Donovan admits that achievement may not be enough to earn the plaudits when he returns home to see his mum.

Ireland's Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'Donovan, gold, on the podium for the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls at Sea Forest Waterway on the sixth day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. Picture date: Thursday July 29, 2021.

“I’ve been ignoring her all the while so she’s going to be fairly annoyed, when I get home I’ll get a back of the hand across the face I’d say,” he told RTE.

O’Donovan also became the first Irish athlete to win Olympic gold and silver medals, having finished second in the double sculls with brother Gary in Rio.

Talking about winning at his sport’s biggest event, a jovial O’Donovan added: “I suppose it’s fine.

“We are just trying to do the best we can and hopefully be the best of the rest of them.

“That’s the race plan we had, we do it all the time and it seems to work OK for us. Italy and Germany always go hard, you can count on that, and then slow down a bit.

“Once we were catching up to them we knew we were at a sustainable pace and kept going.

“Winning today and a silver medal last time, I’ll be a bit happier about that. The silver medal is nice but Fintan did the right job and we went straight to the top at his first Games.”

McCarthy added: “I’ve been chilled out, usually I’d be a bit more nervous but felt really prepared. The expectation doesn’t weigh too heavily on us, we do what we always do – the best we can.”

The duo had set a new Olympic best in the semi-final of six minutes and 05.33 seconds but had to fight for gold.

Germans Jonathan Rommelmann and Jason Osborne were 10 lengths clear after 500m but Ireland slowly closed the gap and managed to edge ahead and were a length in front before the finish line.