Sinead Jennings has been named as the 2016 Donegal Sports Star of the Year.

Sinead Jennings. Image: Rowing Celebration

The Letterkenny woman has become the first sportsperson to win the prestigious award for a third time after reaching an Olympic final in August at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Jennings reached the final of the lightweight women’s double sculls after finally realising her Olympic dream, coming sixth in the final alongside her partner, Claire Lambe.

It had been a lifetime’s achievement for Jennings even to make the start line in Rio, never mind to reach the final.

Qualifying for the final, Patsy McGonagle – the Irish Athletics Team Manager who was the Special Guest at tonight’s awards – said reaching the final was the greatest achievement EVER by a Donegal sportsperson.

Jennings, a 39-year-old mother of three who is a qualified doctor, didn’t get a chance to go to the qualifying regatta for Bejing in 2008, having failed to find a doubles partner for Athens in 2004, while she was just outside the qualifying time at track cycling for London in 2012.

In 2001, Jennings won a gold medal at the World Rowing Championships in Lucerne.

Jennings was the recipient of this award in both 2001 and 2006.