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Sports Person of the Year 2016: Why Paul O'Donovan deserves his place on the shortlist

The 22-year-old Corkman won medals at the Olympics, the Europeans and the Worlds in 2016.

THE SHORTLIST FOR RTÉ Sports Person of the Year is packed with worthy contenders.

First in our look at each of the nominees, Paul Dollery endorses the claims of Olympic silver medallist and World and European Championship gold medallist Paul O’Donovan…

Paul O'Donovan celebrates winning gold Source: Herman Dingler/INPHO

When Paul and Gary O’Donovan rose to prominence during the early stages of this summer’s Olympic Games, their colourful interviews were responsible at first.

Inadvertently playing the role of innocent country boys on a day out, the Cork brothers entertained audiences by discussing their ‘pull like a dog and hope for the best’ strategy instead of their prospects of actually bringing a medal back to Skibbereen.

However, when it came to representing Ireland on the water against the best in the world, it soon became clear that the O’Donovans weren’t in Rio de Janeiro for “a bit of craic”.

The brothers went to Brazil on the back of winning gold in the men’s lightweight double sculls at the European Championships in Brandenburg three months earlier.

They were narrowly beaten by the French pair of Jérémie Azou and Pierre Houin in the Rio final, but a second-place finish gave Ireland its first ever Olympic medal in rowing.

Gary and Paul O'Donovan Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Instead of basking in the glory of the historic achievement, Paul went to Rotterdam just two weeks later in search of another medal — and he delivered it in emphatic fashion.

Flying solo on this occasion in the lightweight single sculls, the 22-year-old blew the competition away to win gold at the World Championships with over four seconds to spare.

Hailing from a country where success at European, World and Olympic level doesn’t occur often in any sport, O’Donovan’s success on all three fronts in 2016 should win him this award against some stiff competition.

And if he does, he’ll owe his brother Gary a few plates of shteak and shpuds over Christmas.

Joy for Irish rowing as O’Donovan brothers claim historic silver medal at Olympics

Brothers in arms: From ‘batin’ the head off each other’ to Olympic silver medals

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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