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25/09/2021

Tipperary family celebrates New Zealand's double rowing success at the Olympics

Tony O'Connor coached two crews to win gold medals

Tony O'Connor

Tony O’Connor coached two New Zealand crews that won gold medals at the Olympic Games in Tokyo

In one area of Clonmel the gold medal-winning exploits of New Zealand rowers at the Tokyo Olympics were cheered as much as the success of the Irish rowing crews were.

Tony O’Connor, the coach of the New Zealand men’s eight crew and the women’s pair, who both struck gold in Japan, is married to Clonmel woman Rachel Purcell.
Rachel is daughter of well-known couple Pierce and Maureen Purcell of Davis Terrace, Clonmel, who are delighted with the role he played in winning gold for his adopted country.
Rachel and Tony, who have two daughters, Grace (13) and 12-year-old Lucy, live in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Tony is a former Olympian himself, having competed at both the Atlanta Games in 1996, when he finished fourth in the men’s lightweight coxless four; and he also rowed in the same event at the Sydney Games four years later.
During a successful career he also won five World Rowing Championship medals.
Born in London, Tony’s childhood was spent in Roscommon and Canada before the family eventually settled in Limerick.
A self-confessed unathletic teenager, a visit to Shannon rowing club set him on a path to a sporting career that has seen him make a name for himself in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

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