Rowing Irelands success built on hard work and volunteers but Tokyo cash is badly needed
After a stunning World Rowing Championships which netted gold in two events, Rowing Ireland’s CEO Michelle Carpenter says that her organisation is miles behind their competitors in terms of staffing and funding.
Carpenter is hoping her team’s success will prompt further investment in the organisation, telling the Irish Examiner, “I hope we see positive results from this weekend, whether it be a sponsor or investment, we need some support as we embark on the journey of Tokyo 2020.”
The O’Donovan brothers at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv 2018
“We are second in the world in the rowing standings. That is an incredible statistic but when you compare us to the countries we’re competing against with regards to facilities and staff, we’re miles behind. The Australians, for example, everything about their set-up was a step above ours. They had a dietician, a marquee for their players to rehydrate and get ready, it gives them the upper hand, without a doubt.”
The medals table at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv 2018
As previously reported on WEROW the Irish Government only allocated Rowing Ireland €90,000 out of a requested €175,000 ahead of Tokyo 2020. This compares with the £30,524,595 allocated to British Rowing’s four year Tokyo campaign, albeit this was some £500,000 down on the Rio budget.
Mother of two and now World Rowing Champion Sanita Puspure, funded most of her international season from her own pocket, missing World Cup 2 in order to save money. Out of her modest funding, she spends around €3,000 on entry fees alone and is left wondering whether, despite being World Champion, a sponsor will ever step up and relieve some of the pressure being an underfunded, world-class athlete places on her family.
Michelle Carpenter and Sanita Puspure at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv
Carpenter says the athletes are appreciative of the support they have received from Sporting Ireland. She the Irish Examiner, “they have supported us throughout the years, and I understand it’s complicated, but our team manager took two weeks off work to be here. We’ve got three staff in the National Rowing centre. Trying to organise these trips, get flights and equipment, bring enough people over to help, it’s very hard with such little numbers.” The elite team manager, Susan Dunlea, is a full-time valuer with the Irish Property Office.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross has promised additional funding but Carpenter is seeking a significant increase in staff to support Ireland’s international rowers. The CEO, who was appointed in May, says she will be looking for sponsorship adding, “We’re a very clean sport, great athletes and high achievers, we are a solid organisation through and through.”
“To achieve what we know we can on our road to gold in Tokyo 2020, we need to get a sponsor soon. It’s only a year and a half away. We now have 25,000 kids rowing in school, with the sport growing,” says Carpenter, “the measures must be in place to allow it to grow.”