Jenny Egan and Ronan Foley will begin their campaign to qualify for next year’s Tokyo Olympics at the opening World Cup Canoe competition in Poznan, Poland starting on Thursday, May 23.
In June last year, Egan, from the Salmon Leap club in Leixlip, Co Kildare, won the 5000m at the World Cup round in Portugal. In a brilliant season, she went on to take bronze at the World Championships in Portugal two months later, making her the first Irish paddler ever to take a medal at this level.
With sights set on Olympic qualification, Egan will compete in the Olympic distances of 200m and 500m as well as the 5000m this season.
Her first opportunity to qualify for Tokyo 2020 will come at the World Championships in Szeged, Hungary from August 21-24 and having missed out on both London 2012 and Rio 2016 by a single place, Egan hopes it will be third time lucky.
“The top five at the World Championships this year will go to the Olympics. Then next year, there's another chance to qualify at the European continental qualifiers. Although it's one of the hardest sports to qualify in for the Olympics, I just have to give it my best shot and, hopefully, I'll make it,” she says.
After winning the junior race at the European Marathon Canoeing Championships in Metkovic, Croatia last season as well as World Cup gold, Ronan Foley, who is from Kilcullen, moves into the senior ranks this season, although he will also continue to compete at U23 level. He will take on the men’s Olympic distance of 1000m as well as the 500m and 5000m this season.
Paracanoeist Pat O’Leary, who is from Cork but based in Moycullen, Co Galway, will compete over 200m at the ECA European Championships in Poznan taking place just before the World Cup on May 21/22. O’Leary competed at the Rio Paralympics - the first Irish padder ever to qualify.
Also selected for the sprint team are Barry Watkins of Salmon Leap Canoe Club (1000m, 5000m); Ryan O’Connor, also Salmon Leap (U23 and senior 200m), and Matthew McCartney of Celbridge Paddlers (junior 500m, 1000m).
After Poznan, the team travels to Germany for the World Cup 2 event in Duisberg from May 30.
Canoeing Key Dates
May 21-22 – European Paracanoe Championships, Poznan, Poland
May 23-26 - World Cup 1, Poznan, Poland
May 30- June 2 – World Cup 2, Duisberg, Germany
August 1-4 – World Junior and U23 Sprint Championships, Pitesti, Romania
August 21-25 – World Championships, Szeged, Hungary