Paul O'Donovan: "They think we're only kind of taking the p*ss half the time but we're actually quite serious"

One half of the medal-winning brothers talks studying, another potential medal and plans for life after rowing

Paul O'Donovan

Paul O'Donovan. ©INPHO/James Crombie

Fresh from a silver medal-winning performance at Rio with brother Gary, Paul O'Donovan isn't standing still.

The Skibbereen rower has gone straight into the World Rowing Championships in Rotterdam and powered into the single sculls final with a commanding show.

"Only for the Olympics, this is the biggest event in the year in the rowing calendar so it's pretty important," he said as Off The Ball caught up with an athlete, who along with his brother, captured the imagination of fans in Ireland as they took home the country's first medal of the 2016 Games and entertained with their interviews after their final.

"As soon as the Olympics final was over, I kind of switched my focus straight away and started concentrating on this and haven't thought what it's going to be like home. But some of the guys are saying that it's going to be mad altogether but we'll have to deal with that when it comes."

O'Donovan also spoke about how he and his brother got into the sport, thanks to coaching from their Dad, as well as the great pool of talent in Skibbereen which is forming the core of Ireland's rowing success.

The 22-year-old also has to juggle life as a student of physiotherapy at UCD - his brother is at CIT - along with being an elite rower.

"We're still getting the college work done and it's a nice kind of break as well from the rowing. We find that we can go away and do something else and get away from each other. Otherwise we'd be with each other 24/7 and I think it's a nice balance for us," he said.

"We know it ourselves that you can't make a living out of rowing forever and once your rowing career is over then you'll have to have something else. We always knew that the college work was important but I think even after we qualified last September, there were a lot of people kind of saying 'are you going to put the studies aside just for this year - it's only one year' but we said 'not a hope'. We enjoy the two sides of life and I think it definitely would have got the better of us if we hadn't done that and we'd got fed up with each other and wouldn't have enjoyed training as much and it wouldn't have been as efficient then."

On the perception of them, he also said: "We are fairly laid back characters and they think we're only kind of taking the p*ss half the time but we're actually quite serious in the training and we're very meticulous with everything we do and we knew coming into the Olympics that we had an excellent bloc of training leading up to it as well."