Paul and Gary O’Donovan

The morning after the Tokyo Olympics, two extraordinary guys from Cork helped Ireland’s little island secure a gold medal in the sport of rowing.

Though this is Fintan’s first Olympic Games, Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy created history by capturing Ireland’s first-ever gold medal for rowing.

Paul and his brother Gary both competed in the 2016 Olympics and brought home a silver medal. After his previous success, many are curious as to why Gary wasn’t included this time around.

Paul and his brother are extremely close, and the remark “pull like a dog” they made about one of their races propelled them to national prominence.

Paul and Gary O’Donovan

Gary may have been MIA on the water, but he made the trip to Tokyo as a member of Team Ireland (as a replacement for Paul and Fintan).

Gary was passed over by Fintan for a spot on the Irish rowing doubles in 2019, and he was similarly unsuccessful at this year’s trials.

Gary had already confessed that it was highly doubtful he would be able to row with his brother in Tokyo after finishing fourth at the European Rowing Championships.

Gary wasn’t actively involved in helping his brother and Fintan, but he was in Tokyo as one of five reserves, ready to step in if necessary.

Paul and Gary’s parents in Skibbereen are “gutted” they can’t be in Tokyo to see their boys create history, but they continue to be very proud of them.

According to Trish O’Donovan, who spoke for all of West Cork, “people have really pulled out all the stops” in support of the Corkonians. All the flags and banners add a lot of vibrancy. We plan to watch it at our house. It feels a little out of place to watch it at home before bed.

In the World Cup, Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy were Victorious.

In 2019, Ireland’s lightweight double sculls took first place at the World Championships, ensuring their spot in Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Not Paul and Gary, but Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, another another Olympic-caliber oarsman to emerge from the Skibbereen club, were in it.

Gary O’Donovan concedes, “Fintan was faster than me last summer,” explaining why he was passed over for a spot in Paul’s crew at the World Championships in Austria.

As a result of missing time due to injury, Fintan posted better results at the trial for the Austrian World Championships than Gary. But Gary hasn’t let the setback get him down: “If you are not in the boat, you are not in the boat and you simply have to go on with it,” he told a local paper.