European medal for Irish surfer
Irish bodyboarder Rory O’Dowd made history today as the first men’s bodyboarder to reach
the senior European Surf Championships (Eurosurf) grand final.
O’Dowd worked hard in the final at Casablanca, Morocco but the greater experience of his opponents relegated him to a copper medal.
O’Dowd said: "I work hard physically and psychologically for my bodyboarding and I am delighted to have gotten this result of 4th in Europe.
“Thanks to everyone who supported me along the way and congrats to the rest of my team."
The young (23) Strandhill bodyboarder was making his first appearance on a senior national team, after three junior european championship teams.
Overall the Irish team finished seventh in Europe with a number of the team making it into the top eight of their divisions.
Irish Surf Team Manager, Stevie Burns said: “ I am happy with the team’s progress from twelfth to seventh, and especially with Rory’s fourth and Ollie’s (Ollie O’Flaherty, open surfer) eighth.”
In challenging conditions against surfers from Morocco, France and Spain; O’Dowd was limited to just four waves in his final, all of which were in a low scoring range.
While Ireland’s women have reached senior European bodyboard finals in the past, none of their male counterparts have previously made it to a senior bodyboard final.
Strandhill native, O’Dowd, works part-time as a surf instructor and musician in Sligo.
O'Dowd picked up the first scoring wave of the final but only got a small score for it and his second, while French bodyboarder Martin Mouradian took the early lead with two solid average wave scores.
The first wave for Spaniard Guillermo Cobo put him into second place, while the home team representative Brahim Iddouch caught two waves just marginally better than O'Dowd’s.
Moroccan, Iddouch then logged a good seven point wave to leapfrog Cobo in the heat while the Spaniard caught a second wave to keep him ahead of O’Dowd.
At the halfway point of the 30 minute final Iddouch picked up a second wave-score in the seven point range to put him ahead of early leader Mouradian.
O'Dowd started to improve his wave-scoring as the final progressed but faced an uphill struggle against his three opponents whose highest wave scores had come earlier.
As the rugby anthems played in Cardiff, Irish surfing supporters were glued to their computer screens for the final minutes of the men’s bodyboarding grand final at the European Surfing Championships (Eurosurf) in Morocco.
With just five minutes remaining in the final Frenchman Mouradian started to reduce the advantage held by Iddouch, while Cobo increased his lead over O’Dowd.
Cobo then jumped into the lead of the final in the last minute, but Iddouch and Mouradian caught waves of their own at the death.
Mouradian’s wave wasn’t enough to overhaul the total from Cobo, nor could Iddouch convert his local knowledge to a high score.
The final finished with a gold medal for Spaniard Cobo, silver for Moroccan Iddouch, bronze for Frenchman Mouradian and copper for Irishman Rory O’Dowd.
O'Dowd’s opportunity arose as a result of one of the regular senior bodyboarders scheduling his wedding for this weekend, which meant many of the regular contenders for the senior slots on the national team were unavailable.
No doubt O’Dowd’s success in Casablanca has now laid down a marker for Irish men’s bodyboarders and should instill confidence for future competitions.
By Eileesh Buckley