'He didn't know the half of what we were up to' - O'Donovans reveal rocky road to silver medal glory

Gary and Paul O’Donovan claimed a historic silver medal in the men’s lightweight double sculls final on Friday.

The O'Donovan's can expect a special welcome home when they return to Skibbereen.
The O'Donovan's can expect a special welcome home when they return to Skibbereen.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

IT WAS QUICKLY turning into an Olympic Games to forget for Team Ireland.

But in a matter of days, the country has found two new sporting heroes in Gary and Paul O’Donovan, to give the country, and the team, a much-needed shot in the arm.

Their relaxed attitude mixed with their jovial nature when dealing with the media, had already won the pair a whole new fan base, but don’t be fooled by their good-natured approach, their silver medal triumph proves there is a steely determination behind their smiling faces.

Speaking to Brendan O’Connor, who was standing in for Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio One this morning, the O’Donovan brothers described how they celebrated their silver medal win.

“I wasn’t out at all. I think every Irishman in Brazil went out, and every Irishman in Skibbereen celebrated,” Gary said.

“It was a bit of a circus after the race, we were running around. There was media and we had to go into the RTÉ studio and trying to get around Brazil takes time.

“And there was a lot standing around and talking to the TV and that kinda stuff.”

“By the time we got back to the village it was about 8pm and we went over and had some dinner, because we hadn’t eaten all day, and then we were knackered, so we went to bed.”

Brother Paul was also feeling the effects of a grueling couple of days, but said their path to an Olympic silver medal was not straightforward.

“No one dreams of winning a silver medal, you always try and get the gold one, that’s what we’ve trained for all year.

“But that’s not to say we are not happy with the silver medal either, it’s an absolutely fantastic achievement. What it can do for Irish rowing, it could be something else.”

Paul also shared stories about the brothers’ conduct as they worked their way up through Skibbereen rowing club under coach Dominc Casey.

“He was always threatening to kick us out the door. He didn’t know the half of what we were up to, because if he did, I’d say we’d have definitely been gone.”

“We were always beating the shite out of each other and stuff like that out on the river there and just causing a bit of trouble.

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“Gary did get suspended with Diarmuid, one of our best friends. They got kicked out for a week or something like that.

“The two guys, a few years later, were at the national championships, and they went out on the piss the night before the race, and they didn’t wake up and missed the race and the club got fined.”

Somehow, we think all is forgiven.

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