Egan gearing up for huge test at Olympic qualifiers

By Stephen Leonard

LUCAN canoeist Jenny Egan is hoping to hit the ground running in 2021 as she gears up for the huge challenge that will come with the Olympic qualifiers in May.

With selections for the Irish team taking place in April, Ireland’s top female kayaker will be hoping to deliver the performance of a lifetime at the Canoe Sprint European Qualifier in Szeged, Hungary on May 12/13.

Jenny Egan 22 1

Lucan’s Jenny Egan has been preparing intensely for the upcoming Olympic qualifiers in both Hungary and Russia this coming May

Two Olympic berths in each of the K1 200m and 500m divisions will be up for grabs and Egan knows that she will have to serve up something special in order to secure one of those.

Indeed the task of securing the only place that will be available in each of those two distances at the Canoe Sprint Global Olympic Qualifier in Barnaul, Russia a week later will be even tougher.

Still Egan, who finished the 2019 sprint racing season ranked Number One in the World in the ICF Senior Women’s K1 5000m, has been steadily improving over the shorter runs.

Indeed in the last competitive race she contested- ICF Senior Canoe Sprint World Championships in August 2019- Egan set a new national record in the Women’s K1 200m of 40.64.

“I took almost a whole second off my previous national best in that race and that was a huge step for the 200m which is such a short race” she pointed out.

And even at that, the 2017 ICF Senior Canoe Marathon World Championships bronze medallist is only too aware of the challenge she faces in May.

“Our sport is one of the most difficult to qualify for the Olympics” she said.

“You have 246 quota places available for single and crew boats in all distances and 1500 will compete at the World Championships alone.

“All I can do is prepare as best I can and hopefully it will all go well.

“I don’t think I’ve lost any ground not competing over the past year.

“Since I was 14 I’ve been competing every summer year on year and I feel the break has been good for my body. It’s allowed me mental and physical rejuvenation. I can focus on my training and getting stronger.

“I’ve had a really great block of winter-training. I do 14-16 sessions per week. I’m on the water and in the gym and running. My life for the past few months has just been train, eat and sleep.

“I’ve tried to stay away from people and keep healthy because I’ve seen first hand the effects of Covid with my brother, Pete [himself the current World Masters Marathon champion who contracted the virus last April].

“Thankfully he’s recovered and getting back his fitness levels but it’s hard.

“Athletes are resilient people. They can experience a lot more disappointments that success in their career.

“I’ve just got to focus now on my preparation and hopefully everything [the competitions] will go ahead as planned.

“It can be hard to think about things like that, but you’ve just got to put that out of your mind and keep preparing, because you just can’t afford to waste any time.

“I want to thank Canoeing Ireland, Sport Ireland, Olympic Federation of Ireland and Salmon Leap Canoe Club, because I’ve been able to train pretty much as normal” added Egan.

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