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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

Only four women have ever won Olympic medals for Ireland, but four more joined the list last night


by Lauren Heskin
28th Jul 2021

@rowingireland on Instagram

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The Irish Women's Four rowing became the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth women to take home an Olympic medal last night

You can probably recite them without even having to glance at the Ireland Olympic medalist Wikipedia page. Michelle Smyth, Sonia O’Sullivan, Katie Taylor and Annalise Murphy. Out of 32 medalists.

But now, they were joined in Irish Olympic history by four more women yesterday, as Ireland’s Women’s Four took bronze – Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegerty. A swimmer, a runner, a boxer, a sailor and now four rowers.

The Irish Women’s Four qualified for the Olympics in March 2021 and have only been rowing in the four together for about 18 months. Beaten by favourites Australia in the heats by only 0.2 seconds, the quartet progressed directly to the final. They are the first Irish Women’s crew to make a final and were open from the beginning about their medal intentions. However, choppy conditions in Tokyo at the tail-end of this typhoon arrived meant they didn’t get off to the best start over the 2,000-metre course.

As the Netherlands and Australia went out strong and Ireland were fifth at the 1,000-metre mark, however, they were confident in their second-half strategy and fought back, eventually beating back Great Britain and Poland to take bronze.

Speaking after the race, Eimear Lambe admitted that the start didn’t go to plan. “I feel like everyone else’s strategy was to put as much distance between us at the start as they could… which they did!” However, coming into the last one kilometre they really backed themselves, and the rest of the field knew they were coming from them too. “I could hear it, left and right, they were like, ‘don’t let them, don’t let them’,” said Aifric Keogh.

They also mentioned that they hope their success gives a boost to rowing in Ireland, especially for young girls joining the sport. “Hopefully for the young girls coming up now it gives them real hope that’s possible,” Said Emily Hegarty, “if we can do it anyone can.”

An unbelievable achievement after many years of hard work, congratulations!

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