Irish rower Ailish Sheehan dies in freak fall hours after winning University Championships medal

'She lit up the club with her humour and laughter,' says Sheehan's head coach

May Bulman
Sunday 11 September 2016 17:47
Comments
Ailish Sheehan suffered catastrophic injuries and was taken to a Polish hospital, where she died five days later (9 September) with her family by her bedside
Ailish Sheehan suffered catastrophic injuries and was taken to a Polish hospital, where she died five days later (9 September) with her family by her bedside

A talented Irish rower has died following a freak fall just hours after celebrating a bronze medal win at a major championships in Poland.

Ailish Sheehan accidentally fell on a footpath in the hours after coming third for Great Britain in the Women's Senior Coxed Fours at the FISU World University Rowing Championships along with teammates Rebecca Edwards, Annie Withers and Gillian Cooper.

The 23-year-old suffered catastrophic injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital where she died five days later, on Friday, with her family by her bedside.

The former Goldsmiths master's student was a member of the University of London's boat club and had recently been elected its vice-captain.

She had won a number of titles with the club, including a gold medal at the British Universities Championships in the women’s coxed four.

Paying tribute to the talented rower, Miss Sheehan's head coach, Phil Gray, said she had a “significant future” in the sport.

He said in a statement: “The whole club is devastated by this news. 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.

“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.”

British Universities & College Sport (BUCS), the governing body for higher education sport in the UK, said they were providing support for her family.

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

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

Tributes have poured in for the rising star on social media. The Great British Rowing team said they were “devastated” to hear of her death, posting on Twitter: “The rowing family has lost a bright star.”

Rowing Ireland also offered its condolences to Miss Sheehan's family and friends, saying: “Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”

The Limerick-born rower won an athletic scholarship to the prestigious University of Notre Dame in Indiana in 2011, where she studied for four years before starting her master's degree in London.

A GoFundMe page set up to raise money for Miss Sheehan's family "to defray the costs of their extended stay in Poland and to contribute to Ailish's celebrations of life in Ireland and elsewhere" has so far raised more than £6,500.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in