Red Rush athlete and AIM Member Mark O’Donovan is one of Ireland’s top rowers. He’s a former National Champion and snagged a silver medal from the World Championships. When he’s not rowing, he’s working on a Master’s Degree in Sports Performance and recently became a strength and conditioning coach for the Paralympic rowing team.
Mark narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, but lately, he’s been on fire. He, along with his rowing partner and fellow Skibbereen native Shane O’Driscoll, set a new Irish Course Record for the men’s lightweight double, winning the Cork Regatta earlier this year.
“Although it was just a national regatta in Ireland, we were still very happy with the result. We set a course record. It was fine to show everyone what we can do, and it was good preparation for racing in the World Cup,” Mark said.
A few weeks later, Mark, again rowing with O’Driscoll in the lightweight men’s double, took sixth place in the World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland, the only Irish crew to qualify for the A Finals this year.
“We had a good race on the semi-final. We led most of the way toward the end, but decided to take a back seat in order to keep some reserve in the tank. Things were serious in the finals. We didn’t have the most favorable lane and there was wind. We raced as hard as we could and we wanted to do better, but that was just the reality of it. We still managed a pretty good result.”
The general strategy behind racing is to go as fast and as hard as you can, but Mark takes each race step by step, making sure everything is nailed down with no slip-ups. When he races, he mentally breaks the course into sections, rowing hard enough to keep his boat—if not in the lead then—within touching distance of the pack, so that they’re still in good condition for the last leg of the race. During the final 250 meters, they give it all they got.
Mark’s goal is to row for Ireland in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. And like his racing strategy, he’s making gains step by step. Each of these races and his experience and strict training regimen have pushed him to the forefront of the Irish rowing scene. If this hot streak continues, we’ll likely see him in the Olympics as part of a four-man crew. Red Rush is helping him achieve his goals.
“Red Rush stops the fatigue of such strenuous racing,” O’Donovan said. “With rowing, it’s all about the power to get us down the course. The nitric oxide helps delay the fatigue of a major lactic acid hit. It feels like easy speed. You can keep working without your limbs feeling slow and heavy. It’s a vital part of my preparation at any stage.”
Update: Mark O’Donovan and O’Driscoll placed seventh in the World Championships in France this year!
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