The first major championship in the canoe sprint season took place last weekend with the Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe European Championships in Poznan, Poland. Racing for Ireland were Patrick O’Leary and Jenny Egan, preparing to build on their great performances at the first World Cup earlier in May, and racing in the K1 Men, Barry Watkins made his first appearance on a start line for 2021.
In the racing itself the highlight of the weekend was seeing history being made with Patrick O’Leary has becoming European Champion in the VL3 200m, become Ireland’s first ever Paracanoe gold medallist. In the VL3 Final Patrick got off to a brilliant start, trading the lead with Adrian Mosquera of Spain, eventually taking the win in a photo finish, 0.1 seconds ahead of Mosquera. The win comes after a great performance in the qualification round of the VL3, finishing in 3rd place in his heat on Thursday to qualify directly through to the A final. Also on the Paracanoe side Patrick had another great performance in the KL3, qualifying through to the A final of the KL3 200m, eventually finishing 9th. This result will give Patrick great momentum as he closes in on racing in this summers Paralympic Games, where he will again compete in the VL3 and KL3.
On the canoe sprint side Barry Watkins had a solid start to his season, progressing well through the rounds to make both the 500m and 1000m B final. Both B finals featured a very strong field, with Barry fighting through to finish 7th in the 500m and 6th in the 1000m. In the K1 Women Jenny Egan suffered a narrow miss in the 5000m final, after a difficult start Jenny fought back to finish 4th place, just shy of the medals. In the 500m, Jenny progressed to the B final, finishing in 6th, with a tough semi final in the 200m seeing Jenny miss the final.