Gary & Paul O'Donovan chat to us about Rio 2016, their sound system and dealing with fame

Ireland's rowing heroes joined Off The Ball at our Roadshow in their hometown of Skibbereen

BY Raf Diallo 20:09 Thursday 27 July 2017, 20:09 27 Jul 2017

Olympic medallists Paul and Gary O’Donovan parade through Skibbereen on an open top bus ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

There's something in the water...

That certainly applies to Skibbereen's waterways with its rowing boats.

But it's the sportspeople at the oars that have really captured the imagination over the past 12 months and specifically the O'Donovan's Gary and Paul whose Olympic silver medal achievements were followed up by classic interviews showcasing their charismatic personalities.

Tonight on Off The Ball, we headed down to their neck of the woods down in Skibb for a special OTB Skibb Roadshow and in a chat with the O'Donovan duo, the lads lifted on some of the preparation methods that have helped them to being amongst the leading rowers in the world.

While the rowers weren't in the spotlight before the Rio Games began, the O'Donovan's were confident of doing well last summer.

"We knew we were good. We'd done the World Cups and we came second," said Gary O'Donovan. 

"We won the Europeans and came fourth in the second World Cup and fourth in the third World Cup and we knew at that stage, that we were pretty damn close. We were really close the two times we came fourth, we were very close to silver. We were a good bit off France but we knew we were close and we knew we hadn't been on fresh legs at them Regattas. We trained hard going through them and we figured in our own heads - you're always thinking optimistically - and you're thinking 'if we had fresh legs, then we could have beaten some of these guys and got medals'. There was always an understanding there. We turned up to Rio and maybe rowing wasn't in the people's consciousness and next thing 'Bang', we start doing well. But we knew in our minds that we were good enough to do well and then you just kind of get confidence and you start backing off the training."

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The lads also discussed the type of tunes that tend to filter their way into the official O'Donovan pre-race playlist.

"We'd be very relaxed there, sitting in the tent, an hour before the race. We'd usually be on a similar time to Shane [O'Driscoll] and Mark [O'Donovan] and we'd kind of just be joking away to each other and having a laugh and eating a slice of bread or something like that after doing the weigh-in and having a drink of water then," said Paul.

"And Gary would be belting out the old Irish tunes out the little speaker."

Gary continued: "We're kind of renowned in the boat park now for having a sound system in the tent [and we play] anything Irish, anything upbeat fast, the Chieftains, the Wolf Tones, whatever's going. It's pretty fun. The Germans had the going joke last year: 'What are you doing during the warm-up? Are you doing the Riverdance inside there?' Everyone else warms-up on a rowing machine on the boat and they think we're doing the Riverdance inside in the tent."  

The duo also discussed how they've dealt with the fame that has followed the Olympic success which has included appearances on the likes of The Graham Norton Show and how they are focused on more success to keep growing their sport in the consciousness.

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