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'The Olympics has been two huge disappointments for me': Sanita Puspure deserved so much better

Ballincollig rower’s time would have seen her qualify from any of the other quarter-finals.

Sanita Puspure is consoled by Sarah Jane McDonnell after finishing fourth Source: James Crombie/INPHO

– Niall Kelly reports from Lagoa Stadium, Rio de Janeiro

THIS WAS DOUBLE jeopardy, pure and simple: Ireland’s Sanita Puspure out of the Olympics, punished twice by the same cruel hand.

A Trojan effort in this morning’s single sculls quarter-final saw her eat away at a gap of almost three and half seconds over the final 500m.

Given another handful of strokes, it seemed inevitable that she would have got up to finish in third and claim a place in the A/B semi-finals. The line came just a moment too soon; she missed out by 0.65 seconds.

To make matters worse, Puspure’s time of 7:28.68 was good enough to win two of the other three quarter-finals, and to come second in the other.

Water conditions in Lagoa Stadium were so disruptive during Saturday’s heats that the natural order of the seedings were turned upside down. Many of the top medal hopes, and Puspure herself, were happy just to have got through the chaos and out on the other side.

But it left the quarter-final draw looking very lopsided indeed. Puspure, bronze medallist at the European Championships earlier this year, found herself up against the veteran Belarusian Ekaterina Karsten (six-time world champion and twice Olympic gold medallist), Australia’s Kim Brennan (world champion in 2013 and again last year), and Jingli Duan of China (bronze at the last two world championships).

“Thanks, that makes me feel so much better,” a tearful Puspure said as she learned of the times in the other heats.

I’ve been unfortunate. Unfortunately in the first day of racing the heats were absolutely hectic results and because of that the draw was completed messed up and I came out on the wrong side of it, again.


Source: The42: Rio 2016 Olympics/SoundCloud

Puspure’s final split of 1:50.75 was more than two seconds faster than any of her rivals down that last stretch, the gap closing all the time.

“I tried to stay with my own race and do what we were planning to do but probably let them go a little bit too far away.

“I started pushing on from 1000m like planned and had a big finish but unfortunately came up a little bit short this time.

“The plan was to be sensible for the first 1000m and gradually just turn the screw and keep going. I thought that was what I did but obviously everyone else did exactly the same.”

Thursday’s C/D semi-final to decide the minor placings will be scant consolation for a woman who came here with much bigger things on her mind.

I’m not even thinking about that. It’s a grief process, get over it and keep going.

Tokyo in 2020, when she will be 38, never seemed so far.

“The first thing I said today when I came in is ‘I’m never going to an Olympics again’. It’s been two huge disappointments for me.”

David Oliver Joyce faces the fight of his life to keep his Olympic dream alive

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Niall Kelly

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