Dreams come true as Galway crew secures Olympic place

Airfric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh once again looking for a medal at this year's World Championships and secure a place at the  place at the 2024 Olympics.

Airfric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh once again looking for a medal at this year's World Championships and secure a place at the place at the 2024 Olympics.

Galway's Katie O'Brien and Steven McGowan became the first Irish boat this week to secure a place at the 2024 Olympics.

Competing in the PR2 mixed double at the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade, the two claimed the top spot after a tough race against world-class opponents.

A strong start in their heat ensured they were going to toe to toe with World Cup bronze medallists Michal Gadowski and Jolanta Majka of Poland, while the 2022 world champions Ukraine struggled to move into the top grouping.

With only one crew to progress straight into the A Final and pick up the qualifying position for the 2024 Paralympics, O'Brien and McGowan had to make a move. Through the third 500m Ireland was the fastest boat, pushing their bow ahead of Poland. Winding up again coming into the finish, there was no catching O'Brien and McGowan, as they secured the ticket to Paris.

It is 11 years since Ireland has had a crew compete in the Paralympics, with the PR3 mixed coxed four in London 2012, and it has been a long road for O'Brien in her bid to qualify. After not being able to find a double partner prior to the Tokyo Olympics, Katie's dream is now a reality, along with her partner Steven McGowan, who only started the sport less than two years ago.

Galway Fiona Murtagh and Aifric Keogh are in action this morning after winning the women's pair repechage. The pair lead the field by more than two seconds at the first 500m mark, and although Italy's Aisha Rocek and Alice Codato made a push, they were unable to catch the Galway duo who crossed first to seal their place the A/B semi-finals this morning, and are now one of the top 12 crews fighting for 11 qualification spots for Paris 2024.

Also in action this morning is Siobhán McCrohan of Tribesmen RC who cruised into the A/B semis of the lightweight women's scull with a second place finish in her heat. With two boats to progressing to the A/B semi-finals, Siobhán made her mark early in the race, along with the Romanian sculler. The two created a significant gap from the remaining boats to qualify.

Galway's Fionnán McQuillan-Tolan is part of the men's four crew, who after a promising start, missed out on the A/B semis and will race the C Final after a fifth place finish in their repechage.

 

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