World Championships: Doyle books Paris sport as Edwards remains on course for Olympics

Daire Lynch and Philip Doyle racing at the European Rowing Championships in Slovenia
Daire Lynch and Philip Doyle finished fourth at the European Championships in May

Six Northern Ireland rowers will contest the medals at the World Championships in Belgrade after Philip Doyle and Rebecca Edwards qualified from the semi-finals on Friday.

Doyle's second spot with Daire Lynch in their men's double sculls semi-final secures the Ireland boat's Paris Olympics spot.

Doyle joins Irish team-mates Nathan Timoney and Ross Corrigan and Great Britain's Hannah Scott and Rebecca Shorten who qualified their boats for Paris on Thursday.

Edwards, in the GB women's eight, were second in their repechage and move onto the final where the top five boats will qualify for the Olympics.

The Banbridge/Clonmel partnership of Doyle and Lynch employed some different tactics in their semi-final.

Usually, slower starters they were right on the pace set by the 2016 Olympic champions and brother Martin and Valent Sinkovic from Croatia.

The lead ebbed and flowed between the two boats with Spain a close third until the Croatians, who followed up their double sculls gold medal in Rio by winning the men's pair title in Tokyo, edged ahead in the final 500m.

'I've done this before' - Doyle

However, they weren't out of sight at the finish as the Irish duo finished a strong second to stamp their ticket to the Olympics and more immediately, Sunday's final.

Despite his qualification for a second Olympics, Doyle said his immediate reaction was "neutral",

"I've done this before, and I've done it again there with Daire," said Doyle, who was partnered by Ronan Byrne in Tokyo.

"So the two of us will have to push together now next year and see how we can make the fastest combination out of us and the rest of the team.

"The conditions were supposed to be favoured for our lane, but when we got up to the top, we realised that wasn't that case at all.

"So just put in a good performance, tried to push against the arguably the best crew in the world, the Croatians so the two of us are delighted."

He continued: "It will be great to watch the rest of the Northern Irish athletes over the weekend and see how they get on to.

"Hopefully they can win medals tomorrow and give put me under a bit of pressure and hopefully I can come away with something."

The women's eight repechage was tightly contested between Great Britain, Canada and Australia with Aughnacloy's Rebecca Edwards helping the GB boat establish an early lead which they held until the the final 200m.

In the sprint for the line, they were edged out of first place by Australia by just five-hundredths of a second, but they had pulled away from Tokyo Olympic champions Canada.

They look well placed to be challenging for the medals and the distance ahead of fourth placed Italy would suggest a top five and Olympic qualification shouldn't be a problem.

Ireland also qualified a fifth boat for Paris after Alison Bergin and Zoe Hyde booked their ticket to Paris by also finishing second in their semi-final.

"We are thrilled! We tried to push all the way through the race, and it paid off," explained Bergin.

The other Irish boats to qualify are the men's lightweight double sculls and pair and the women's pair with the women's lightweight double sculls and women's four racing B Finals over the weekend with a second opportunity to qualify for the Paris Games.