The Team Ireland Women’s Fours crew returned home to the country on Monday after their bronze medal win on Wednesday morning.
The quartet – Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Emily Hegarty and Fiona Murtagh – took bronze after a slow start to the final and doubled the amount of Irish female Olympic medalists as a result, becoming the first women to win an Olympic rowing medal for Team Ireland.
The four women are proud of their achievements in Tokyo and are humbled by the statistics that have sprouted from their bronze medal finish.
“You don’t even realise [what you’ve achieved] until after and I think it’s a really proud moment for us,” Keogh said.
“When we see those things written down it’s like a shock almost and we’re really proud of it.”
The crew are far more spaced out than the gold medalist double sculls duo of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy.
Murtagh and Keogh returned to Galway as the first Olympic medalists from the county while Lambe comes from Dublin and Hegarty hails from Skibbereen, like the men’s duo.
Murtagh stated that downtime is needed after an intensive few months for the four women.
The 25-year-old said: “Oh, I definitely want to take a bit of time off! It’s been a long preparation and we’ve all worked really hard, so we definitely deserve a break to spend time with family and friends. It’s been so long since we’ve seen anyone.”
Their intensive training in the build-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has seen them form a bubble with each other.
The quartet has rarely mixed outside of their own training group since their training began 13 months before their successful Olympic campaign due to Covid-19.
They are all excited to burst that bubble and see their loved ones after being focused on the Olympics for so long.
Outside Christmas, we probably haven’t seen our families except [for] the odd weekend here or there.
“There were times when we needed time away from the group, but we knew the smart thing was to keep the group as safe as possible and stay within the bubble.”
As Murtagh described it: “We have our own different journeys to go on.”