The Irish pair of Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy produced a dominant display in their double sculls semi-final, easing to victory as they secured their place in tomorrow's final with plenty to spare.
Claiming victory with a world's best time of 6:05.33, O’Donovan and McCarthy were in control throughout and showed just why they are considered one of Ireland’s brightest medal hopes in Tokyo.
With the weight of expectation on their shoulders, Ireland lived up to their favourites tag and got off to an impressive start.
Though Italy led the way, Ireland were just behind them at the 500m mark, 0.5 of a second behind the race leaders. They soon began to stretch their legs and moved into first, pulling away from the Italians to lead by 0.23 of a second at the halfway point.
Having opened up a decent gap on the chasing pack, Ireland and Italy took the foot off the gas slightly. However, by then O'Donovan and McCarthy had extended their lead to 1.65 seconds - a full length.
With the hard work done, the Irish duo weren't content to just maintain their lead and stretched away even further to win in a time of 6:05.33. Italy were second, with Belgium claiming the final qualifying place.
O’Donovan and McCarthy will be back in action at 1.45am on Thursday, Irish time, and will very much go into the race with the gold medal in their sights.
Speaking afterwards to RTÉ Sport, O'Donovan felt the duo had "rowed well in the tricky conditions", while McCarthy referenced "a few wobbles down the course" but said he's now looking forward to the final.
"We'll avoid partying with the Norweigans," O'Donovan quipped, while adding that a game of Scrabble, for which he'll be taught some new words, will also be on the agenda as they target gold in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
On the expectation that a medal can be delivered, McCarthy added: "Look, once we are down here it feels like another regatta. If we can put in our best, we'll have a good performance."
Enjoy a few games of scrabble and avoid partying with the Norwegians... Fintan McCarthy and @PaulO_Donovan give insight into how they'll prepare for tomorrow's final #olympics #tokyo2020 #RTESport— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) July 28, 2021
?? Watch live - https://t.co/b2OI4OoWVJ
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There was disappointment, however, for the women's double sculls team of Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen, who had to settle for a place in tomorrow’s B final.
Casey and Cremen started well enough but were unable to keep pace with the boats of Great Britain, France and the Netherlands who secured the three qualifying places for the final.
Ireland were pipped on the line by Switzerland and finished in fifth, having sat in fourth place for most of the race.
There was no joy for Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska in their women's pair semi-final, finishing fifth to go into B final— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) July 28, 2021
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?? Report - https://t.co/bA8CRb76d9 pic.twitter.com/UwBJm4nbaK
The Irish duo of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska finished fifth in the women's pair semi-final having never really threatened to push into the top three qualifying places.
The relatively new pairing were unable to keep pace with the three breakaway teams of Great Britain, Canada and Australia in the early stages.
Those three looked set to book their place in the final until a stunning final 500m from the unfancied Greece saw them claim a surprise victory and force Australia into the B final with Ireland, with GB finishing second and Canada taking third.
In the men's double scull of Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne finished fourth in their B Final, resulting in a tenth place finish overall.
The pair had a fast start, holding joint second in the opening 500m behind the Russian Olympic Committee, with a tight battle for eighth place between themselves, New Zealand and Romania. On the line they were pipped by the Romanian crew into fourth in the heat.