Clare's Liam Jegou has become the first Team Ireland athlete selected for the Tokyo Olympic Games

Clare's Liam Jegou has become the first Team Ireland athlete selected for the Tokyo Olympic Games

Clare's Liam Jegou has become the first Team Ireland athlete to be selected for the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer.

The Ballyvaughan Canoe Slalom racer has already stamped his mark on the international stage, winning silver in the 2014 Junior World Championships and bronze in the 2019 U23 World Championships.

Jegou (24) will compete in the C1 category at the Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre in Tokyo from July 26-27.

Jegou is the second Irish athlete ever to compete in the C1 Canoe Slalom at the Olympic Games, with the only other athlete being Mike Corcoran, who last competed in Atlanta 1996, the year in which Jegou was born.

Being an Olympian has always been one of my biggest dreams. I started training when I was 11 or 12, the past month has been unbelievable knowing that I am going to compete for Team Ireland in the Olympics. In my sport the Olympics is everything, it’s what everyone works for in their sport. It’s such a select thing; there’s only one athlete per nation that gets to go and when you to go you just want to give it your all. Most people only get to go to the Games once or twice in their lives, and I’m certainly not going to let the opportunity pass me.”

Canoeing Ireland Performance Director Jon Mackey described the significance of this for his sport,

It’s big for any sport to qualify for an Olympic Games. For canoeing, it’s great for the exposure of the sport, we are relatively small, and it’s great to tap into the proud tradition of Irish canoeing at the Olympic Games.

The difference between C1 and K1 in Canoeing is that the C1 category involves the athletes using a single-bladed paddle to propel the boat forward while kneeling in the canoe. The K1 athlete is seated and uses a double-bladed paddle. C1 Canoe Slalom has been on the Olympic programme since 1992 as a men’s event, and 2020 is the first year that a C1 women’s event is included, in the IOC move towards a gender-balanced games.

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