Egan makes history with World Canoe Sprint bronze medal win

By Stephen Leonard 

JENNY Egan produced arguably the most gutsy performance of her sporting career so far to take bronze in the K1 5000m at the ICF Senior Canoe Sprint World Championships in Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal on Sunday.

After a difficult start to the race that left her way back in 15th position, the Lucan kayaker somehow fought her way through the field to catch the lead group and ultimately earn Ireland’s first-ever medal at a Senior Canoe Sprint World Championships.

Jenny Egan World Cship Bronze

Lucan kayakerJenny Egan crossing the line at the championships

It required a monumental effort for Egan to close the gap on the forerunners which included World Championship medallist, Lizzie Broughton of Great Britain, two-time Olympic bronze medallist, Maryna Litvinchuk of Belarus, multiple World Championship medallist Caitlin Ryan of New Zealand and Rio Olympic silver medallist Emma Jorgensen of Denmark.

Both Jorgensen and Ryan were unable to stay in contention, but Egan remained among the medal positions despite the huge toll her recovery took on her energy reserves.

In the end, it was Broughton who won out in the sprint for the line, taking gold, with Litvinchuk securing silver and Egan bronze.

Delighted at becoming the very first Irish athlete to reach the podium at this event and the manner in which she did it, Egan told The Echo “It’s been a life-long goal for me to win a medal at a World Sprint Championship and I did it in one of the hardest ways.

“To be back in 15th place and work my way back group by group, it doesn’t usually happen that way.

“The 5000m can be quite hectic. There are no lanes and it can be a real free-for-all.

“I got boxed out by other paddlers and so I went out wide to avoid collisions, trying to stay out of the messy water.

“But it left me behind and I had to catch back up group by group. That is not an easy thing to do. I was about 20m behind the lead group but I said to myself, ‘Jenny, it’s now or never’

“I just really dug deep and got myself into the lead group and when I did that I said ‘now Jenny, just hold it here’.

“Two paddlers fell back so there was just the three of us, but Lizzie Broughton made a sprint for the line and won with Maryna second.

“I had used so much energy in trying to catch back up, I couldn’t stay with them, but I was delighted to win bronze.

“After the race there were chants of ‘Ireland’ ‘Ireland’ and so many people were telling me it was just an unbelievable race and a great performance.

“Around May and June I was out with a virus and that was very irritating.

“I did get a really good eight-week training block in coming up to these Championships where I was doing personal best times in certain sessions.

“But still you really have to feel good on the day and everything has to click. Thankfully it did,” she said.

The achievement was made all the more special by the presence of her parents Tom and Angie, the former being Team Leader for the Irish Canoe Sprint squad while Angie was part of her support crew.

Egan has opted to stay on in Portugal for the Canoe Marathon World Champ-ionships in which she will race on Saturday, Septem-ber 8 at Prado Vila Verde.

The Salmon Leap Canoe Club star, last year, became the first Irish female athlete to medal at this very event, winning bronze in South Africa and she will be hoping to emulate if not better that form.

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