European Olympic Sprint Qualifier
The Irish Canoe Sprint Team got back on the start-line for the opening race of the 2021 World Cup in Szeged, Hungary. The event also played host to the return to competition for Paracanoe, and to the European Sprint Qualifier for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Competing for Ireland were Jenny Egan (200m & 5000m), Ronan Foley (1000m & 5000m), and Patrick O’Leary (Paracanoe 200m VL3 & KL3).
The event opened with the Olympic Qualification racing, with the only Irish athlete contesting the spots on offer being Jenny Egan in the K1 Women 200m. Racing was very tight with the Olympics on the line, but Jenny displayed some very strong racing to progress through the rounds to make the final of the 200m where the top 2 nations would obtain an Olympic quota spot. After a great start putting her right in contention for the spot, Jenny slipped down the order to finish 8thin the final, with Olympic spots begin claimed by Great Britain and Italy.
In the World Cup which followed immediately on from the Olympic Qualification event Ireland saw some more finals appearances with some fantastic racing, and received a few upsets. Patrick O’Leary, Ireland’s Tokyo bound Paralympian, got his year off to a great start, qualifying through to the 200m final in both the KL3 and the VL3. With both being events Patrick will be contesting in Tokyo this summer, they were great markers to his form for the 2021 season. The VL3 saw his best performance, with a strong finish seeing Patrick come home in 6th. With theKL3 having a no less impressive performance to finish in 9thin the final.
In the longer 1000m and 5000m events Ireland had promising performances from Ronan Foley, mixing it with the best in the world at still a young age. Ronan finished the event in 22ndfor the 1000m and 17thin the 5000m, and will look forward to taking this experience to the U23 competitions later this year. Jenny Egan who was also competing in the 5000m suffered a setback during the race, and ended up not completing the event.