Call them the Irish Boys in the Boat.
The O’Donovan brothers from Skibbereen, County Cork brought relief to Olympic-medal starved Ireland by capturing silver medals today in men’s lightweight double skulls rowing.
Ireland won’t ever give the surging United States a run, or a row, for its money in the medal table – but scarcity makes for an Irish celebration to match the impressive U.S. haul, 39 medals in total at the time of writing.
The silvers – which counts as one silver on the medals table – are the first ever rowing medals for Ireland.
The O’Donovan’s battled rowers from France and Norway for a medal place and were narrowly pipped by the French duo in what was a thrilling final contest.
Only .7 of a second separated the French gold medalists, Irish silver medalists and Norwegian bronze medalists.
“The O’Donovans produced the race of their life, with another strong finish seeing them come from fifth at the halfway mark to win silver in six minutes 31.23 seconds,” the Irish Times reported.
“We’re still trying to come to terms with it. We wanted to win gold medal but to come away with the silver, we’re just so happy,” said Paul O’Donovan.
One of the first to congratulate the brothers was President Michael D. Higgins.
“On behalf of the people of Ireland, I want to congratulate Paul and Gary O’Donovan on winning a silver medal today, Ireland’s first ever Olympic rowing medal,” said President Higgins.