Sanita Puspure made the perfect start to the 2019 European Rowing Championships in Lucerne with victory in her single sculls heat.

World champion Purpure was pushed all the way by Britain’s Victoria Thornley, but pulled away in the closing stages, claiming victory in a time of 7:30.65, just under five seconds ahead of Thornley to secure her semi-final place.

There was also a heat victory for Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle in the men’s double sculls.

Byrne and Doyle led from start to finish, fighting off a solid challenge from the Romanian duo of Ioan Prundeanu and Marian-Florian Enache to take the line in a time of 6:26.53 and a spot in the semi-finals.

There was no such joy for Gary O’Donovan however, who is competing at these Championships without his brother Paul who is currently preparing for exams.

Competing in the lightweight single and still recovering from a wrist injury sustained in New Zealand, O’Donovan finished in last place in his heat and had to settle for fourth place in the repechage.

RTÉ will have live coverage of the 2019 European Rowing Championships starting on Sunday 2 June at 9am on RTÉ 2.