Gary O'Donovan Visa contactless 1

Talking to… Gary O’Donovan

We caught up with Irish rower Gary O’Donovan about his training regime, avoiding early morning starts and why he’s excited by his latest project

Alongside brother Paul, Gary O’Donovan is one of Ireland’s most successful sportsmen. But it’s his latest project, #TapIntoIreland that has him most excited right now.

If you had any advice for anyone starting out as a rower what would it be?

I usually tell kids who want to start rowing to bring along some of their friends. Kids usually have fun with their friends no matter what they do so I think it would make their time rowing more enjoyable. I guess that applies to any sport really. That’s from my experience anyway as a kid, and we are all still rowing and having a great time.

Does it still surprise you when you’re recognized?

Not so much anymore it is quite common around the country but sometimes when we are traveling around the world training and racing people would recognise us in the most random of places and random situations. I was in a pharmacy buying suncream in a small town just outside Hamilton in new Zealand and a lady on the opposite isle recognised myself and Paul’s voices without even seeing us. I taught that was hilarious.

What would people be surprised to know about your training regime?

Probably that we try our level best to not do anything before 10am. Avoid the early starts at all costs.

Do you follow a strict diet or is that only when you’re training?

Depending on the time of year. Most of the time we are trying to eat as much as possible to have enough energy for training. Leading into races is a bit more refined as the training volume reduces and the weight management becomes the focus for the weigh in.

What’s next for you?

Training camp over Christmas in Spain. The weather tends to be not great in Ireland for rowing so we try to go to spain for a few weeks of training on the water.

What’s the most important lesson you learned from the Olympics?

That’s a difficult one, from a rowing point of view it’s a race. It’s 2000 meters long with 6 boats, the same as every race we have done in our lives so we are always trying to learn how to do that better no matter where we are racing. But I did learn that the Olympic Village is very misrepresentative of reality, it should be called the Olympic City. It is enormous!

What excited you most about #TapIntoIreland?

 It should be some craic, Rob, Lisa and Niamh are a bunch of lunatics so I’d say we will have a blast together.

I do love getting out and about in Ireland to try and see the more of the country so this will be a great opportunity to find some of Ireland’s best hidden gems with the help of our online followers. Often with the volume of training I don’t have much spare time or energy to go around the country and do some fun stuff so this will be a great opportunity to do just that and have a bit of craic doing it. Paying by Visa contactless is so quick and easy to use, so I know we’re going to get to experience so many of Ireland’s amazing local retailers and businesses throughout the three days.


Gary is taking part in this year’s  #TapIntoIreland with Visa. Kicking off on November 15th for three days, this year’s road trip will see the tam experience some of Ireland’s most interesting experiences, innovative businesses and quirky local spends. Joining Gary on the road will be Niamh Cullen, Lisa Jordan and Rob Kenny. 

READ: Talking to… Finn Ní Fhaoláin