Paul O'Donovan briefly breaks character in remarkable gold medal interview
"Oh it's fine, yeah."
Almost as soon as you saw the Irish rowers raise their arms as world champions, you were wondering what gold would be delivered in the Paul O'Donovan interview.
The Skibbereen dynamo tried his best told hold that usual poker face, but the facade cracked near the end of his chat with David Gillick.
O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy cruised to yet another lightweight double sculls gold medal at the Rowing World Championships in Racice, Czech Republic.
The 28-year-old stood beside a beaming McCarthy for their post-race chat with RTE and he started off with his usual understated demeanour. When Gillick asked O'Donovan how it felt to win his fifth straight world championship gold, he was told, "It's fine, yeah."
"Is that it? Gillick asked, as he pressed for more.
O'Donovan bristled, ever so slightly. "Yeah."
"There's no expectation or pressure," he added. "That's something people talk about, and we wouldn't be too concerned about what people think."
"I'm happy," said McCarthy, when it was his turn to share his thoughts. The Irish pair had a shortened and disrupted period of preparation for this stretch of big races, not that it showed on the water.
Paul O'Donovan dipped off-screen to receive an Irish tricolour then broke down the race, and the way himself and McCarthy burned off the Italians and Swiss. "Much like usual," he reflected, and it was hard to argue otherwise.
When Gillick asked how he and McCarthy maintain momentum over the next two years, leading up to the next Olympics, it was then that O'Donovan's facade cracked.
"I suppose training, as usual, David."
Then the smile broke out. "Ah, yes, a bit of fun. I can do that."
"I got him to smile," declared Gillick, as if that was a victory in itself for the former Irish athlete.
Paul O'Donovan with possibly the most under-stated reaction ever to winning a World title. You'd know he's won five-in-a-rowpic.twitter.com/u8goWAsqAQ
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) September 24, 2022
Paul O'Donovan interview finishes on a high
Back in the RTE studio, former Irish Olympian Tim Harnedy praised Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy for another dominant performance.
On O'Donovan, and his back-and-forth with Gillick at the start of their interview, he said, "You wouldn't know what's going on with that fella. He seemed to take offence with David's question which was a perfectly reasonable question."
The happiest O'Donovan appeared was when Ireland teammates Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen, who won bronze in their final, gate-crashed the interview.
As O'Donovan embraced his teammates and shared the Irish flag, McCarthy vowed that all four would toast a fine end-of-season performance in the Czech Republic this evening.
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