By Harry Walsh
LETTERKENNY rower Sinead Jennings flew out to France on Wednesday in preparation for the World Rowing Championships which begin in Aiguebelette this weekend.
Sinead (38) will compete in the lightweight women’s double sculls, with not just medals but also Olympic qualification up for grabs.
In order to secure their place on the plane to Rio, Sinead and Dubliner Claire Lambe must finish in the top 11 at the event. The heats get underway on Sunday with the finals on Saturday week.
Speaking to the Donegal News from France yesterday Sinead said that she was looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s great to be back at the Worlds. Fingers crossed we’ll do the business,” she said.
The Hawthorn Heights native has already had plenty of success at the World Championships, taking bronze in 2000 and gold the following year, despite still being a relative newcomer to the sport.
In 2008, Jennings took a break from rowing and began a stint in cycling. After missing out on London 2012 qualification, though, she announced her retirement from sport before being convinced to return by her rowing coach Don McLachlan last year.
The mother-of-three has taken a year out from her work as a doctor in Limerick and relocated her family to Cork to pursue her dream.
Married to Sam Lynch, a former world champion and Olympic rower himself, the couple have three daughters Clodagh (4), who starts school on Monday, Molly (2) and Hannah (1).
Jennings and Lambe are relatively inexperienced as a pair, but Sinead remains optimistic that they can make an impact next week.
The veteran athlete has tried to qualify for the Olympics before and is familiar with the heartache of near misses – she came within .1 of a second of qualifying for the 2004 Athens Olympics with then lightweight partner Heather Boyle.
Younger sister Caitriona, who was one of Ireland’s representatives in the women’s marathon at London 2012, and parents Teresa and Michael will travel to France to cheer on Sinead next week.
“There’s a lot more to think about rather than just qualifying. You’ve got your heats, quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals. So there’s a lot of focus on them and of course, you’ll always be trying to make the finals,” said Sinead.
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