Ireland's JW2-: The Road to Worlds 2018

 Ellie O'Reilly who will race at stroke, left, with bow girl Gill McGirr, right
Unlike many of the crews we see competing at Worlds, Ellie and Gill have been lucky to grow their partnership over the course of several years and come up through the levels. After a very impressive double-gold medal haul at last year's Coupe de la Jeunesse, they are now more than ready to take on the rest of the World at the Junior World Championships in Račice. Amongst a busy training schedule, they kindly took the time to answer a couple of questions!

What have been the big races to prepare for Račice this year and where have you been training?

 Unfortunately there was no Irish representation at the Junior European Championships this year, but we did attend the British National School Regatta in May for our club Fermoy on the same weekend of Europeans where we won gold which was incredible and a great experience. It really helped us in our preparation for Worlds in terms of strategically planning our race.                       

 We train at the National Rowing Centre in Cork, Ireland. It’s a lake with about a 20km stretch and a 2km course in the middle. The Homes International Regatta is being held here this year along with the Coupe de la Jeunesse. It’s a really nice course, it’s sometimes susceptible to winds but the rough conditions really help to prepare us for bad weather during a race. 

Have you raced at Junior Worlds before, or will this be your first time? What does it mean to race in Račice this year?

No, this is our first Junior Worlds but we did race in the Coupe last year in Hazelwinkel and won double gold, which is the main reason we decided to set our sights on Worlds. It was a real confidence boost being able to say we not only went to Coupe in our first year on the Irish team but we also won. 

It’s a huge deal for us. Throughout the year it was a constant push to get selected and trying to make a certain time. Of course all the training has paid off with our selection but it was a gruelling year with constant assessment. 

Aside from the racing itself we guess the experience is what we’re most looking forward to, it’s an amazing experience to have at our age and we just can’t wait to get out there and see what it’s like.

It must be really exciting to see such a breakthrough in Irish rowing recently. Who inspires you in rowing?

We really admire the Irish Senior rowers like Sanita Puspure who won Silver at World Cup I and III while Gary and Paul O’Donovan won Bronze at World Cup I and Gold at World Cup III. They’re the dream, to be that successful in Senior World events. We’re lucky enough to get to train with the Senior Women when they’re in Cork which is so beneficial for us, getting to pace off them, they really drive us on. 

What’s your favourite thing about rowing? 

Well the reason we’re in the pair is because we love the aspect of a team and being able to motivate each-other. We’ve been rowing together in a pair for nearly two years now so we’ve really bonded and learned how to gel in the boat. We can’t imagine being separated.  

And what are your goals for the future?

Our short term goals are just like everyone else’s, doing as well as we can in the Junior Worlds and coming home with absolutely no regrets or disappointment. We’re going over there to try our best and see where we get. Long term goals we are a little unsure of, we hope to progress to an elite U23 level but we take everything day by day and try to keep a level head about both racing and our future in rowing. 

We wish Ellie and Gill the very best of luck with their campaign in  Račice in a few weeks time!

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