The O'Donovan brothers are looking forward to competing in the future with the children they have inspired

Gary and Paul are already preparing for next year's World Championship

BY Daniel Kelly 07:00 Thursday 27 October 2016, 7:00 27 Oct 2016

Gary and Paul O'Donovan. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Two-and-a-half months have passed since brothers Gary and Paul O'Donovan won Ireland's first medal of Rio 2016.

The Skibbereen duo pulled like dogs to win a silver medal in the lightweight double sculls at the Lagoa Stadium. It was the first medal Ireland won in rowing at any Olympics and the duo were only 0.55 seconds away from winning gold.

Following their Rio heroics, Paul even missed the Closing Ceremony in Brazil to win a World Championship gold medal in Rotterdam in the lightweight single sculls.

Fame has come to the brothers, off the back of what happened in Brazil. Following their homecoming in Cork Airport, thousands took to the streets of Skibbereen to welcome them home. An appearance on The Late Late Show followed too, but both admitted that they returned to normal life as quickly as they could.

Gary graduated from Cork IT last week, while Paul returned to UCD in the week's after his triumphs to continue his physiotherapy studies.

Speaking on Wednesday at the launch of the Bord Bia Quality Assured Eggs Campaign, Gary admitted they have noticed the waterways around the country have gotten busier since their success.

"Oh, yeah, the amount of kids all over the country, especially in Skibbereen Rowing Club, we've noticed it a lot... almost every youngster in our area is taking an interest and they all want to give it a go."

"We've been hearing that a lot of clubs around the country are having huge numbers wanting to start rowing."

"Ever since we've been any way successful in rowing, we've been trying to promote it. Any time we get a chance in the press, we try and promote the sport because we just think it's a great sport."

"The more youngsters we can get started, the more successful Ireland can be in rowing in the future."

The O'Donovan's coach Dominic Casey is based in Skibbereen, and Gary added that Casey will put as much focus into youngsters starting their careers, as he would into the Olympic medalists.

"His passion is phenomenal. He’ll put as much time and effort into the 14-year-old kid who’s starting at the weekend that he would into us. He will never turn down an athlete. If an athlete wants to train, he’ll welcome them and he’ll open the doors and he’ll give them every opportunity that he possibly can."

With numbers increasing around the country, the brothers are well aware of their role in promoting the sport, but admit the best promotion they can give is by winning medals.

"If we can continue to train hard, continue to go fast and win medals that will inspire kids more than any amount of publicity or media", Gary revealed. "But the two will go hand in hand like. If we can go to the World Championships next year and get a medal or the Europeans again and get more  exposure… a bit of longevity goes a long way in that regard."

"We’re not going to change what we are to try and promote the sport because we are doing that anyway," Paul added. "A bit more media attention, it will certainly help that."

“Not only are we able to do something that we love, but we’re getting youngsters to start something that they will potentially love as much as we do", Gary continued. "Hopefully they can go on and we create more and more success long into the future and even beyond us.

"In 15 years time, who knows where we will be or what we will be doing. We could be rowing in the Olympics in however many years time with someone who is just starting today, and that’s kind of cool."

Having become the poster boys for the sport almost overnight, the Cork duo are enjoying their influence on the sport, but are already focused on what the future holds.

Champion rowers Gary and Paul O’Donovan teamed up with Bord Bia to launch the Bord Bia Quality Assured Eggs Campaign, encouraging people to choose eggs as fuel for their busy lives. The versatility and protein content of eggs as part of a healthy, balanced diet is not only important to champion athletes and fitness fans, but can help everyone enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Check out www.bordbia.ie/eggs for recipe inspiration and “Get yourself a six pack”

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