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Irish rower dies after suffering injuries in fall in Poland

Published 09/09/2016

Ailish Sheehan while rowing for Notre Dame
Ailish Sheehan while rowing for Notre Dame
Ailish Sheehan had taken bronze in the women's four in Poznan, Poland, last Sunday hours before the accident happened

A rower has died from injuries sustained in a fall after winning a medal in the World University Championships.

Ailish Sheehan, 23, from Limerick, had taken bronze in the women's four in Poznan, Poland, last Sunday hours before the accident happened.

A postgraduate student at Goldsmiths, University of London, she had been competing for the University of London Boat Club.

In a statement, Vince Mayne, c hief executive of British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), said her death was deeply saddening.

"BUCS, British Rowing and Rowing Ireland are providing support to her family during this difficult time and ask for their privacy to be respected," they said.

"On behalf of everyone at BUCS, I wish to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Ailish and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time."

It is understood Ms Sheehan's parents and sisters were with her in Poznan when she died.

Rowing Ireland also extended condolences to Ms Sheehan's family and friends.

"Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time," the organisation said.

Ms Sheehan was a postgraduate student studying for a masters in design and environment and had previously studied for several years at Notre Dame in the US.

She was from Kildimo, Co Limerick, and was a former member of St Michael's Rowing Club and Dooneen Athletic Club.

Ms Sheehan had taken Irish titles and was regarded as having an Olympic and international future in the sport.

Phil Gray, the University of London's chief rowing coach, said everyone connected to rowing was devastated.

"Not only was Ailish a top oarswoman with a significant future in the international side of the sport but she also lit up the club with her humour and laughter," he said.

"She was a great example to younger members and starting next year without her is hard to imagine at the moment especially as she had been elected vice captain. But our main thoughts are with Ailish's family who obviously meant so much to her."

Zoe Parish, chair of the University of London Boat Club Trust, said: "We are all shocked at this appalling news and are quite sure the whole rowing community will feel the same."

A book of remembrance is to be opened by the university to record memories of the Irish woman.

James Richards, the college's men's captain, described his fellow athlete as exceptional.

"She was mentally one of the strongest people I knew in all aspects of life," he said.

"She had a relentless infectious energy that made everyone better themselves. She was inspirational. UL (University of London) will truly miss her. My thoughts and those of UL go out to her sisters and her parents."

Lottie Bruce, the women's captain, said: "Ailish was the most gutsy and remarkable girl I had ever had the pleasure of meeting. Her strength shone through but she kept humble about her successes. A true role model for all at UL. I am so proud to call her my teammate and friend.

"She will be missed. The stars are shining bright for you Ailish"

Ms Sheehan joined University of London at the start of the 2015/16 academic year after rowing with Notre Dame's first Varsity eight.

She had won at the British Universities Championship in the women's coxed four and also in the senior fours at Henley women's regatta.

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