Ireland gains first Olympic canoeing place for London

Ireland gains first Olympic canoeing place for London

Hannah Craig has become the first Irish canoeist to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games.

The K1 slalom kayaker has made it to London 2012 after being the highest finisher from a previously non-qualified nation at the European Championships in Augsburg, Germany.

Craig was 25th in qualifying this afternoon, with a best time across her two runs of 1 minute, 45.79 seconds – six seconds behind the fastest time set by Germany’s Jasmin Schornberg – good enough to earn the Leixlip Salmon Leap Club canoeist from Antrim a spot at her first ever Olympics.

Craig suffered a four-second penalty for touching a late gate, something which denied her a top-ten finish.

It caused her mild irritation on an otherwise positive day: “My time was really fast and I’m really happy with that.It would have put me in the top ten. I’m frustrated with my touch (of the gate) towards the end. There’s mixed feelings towards that, but also a feeling of relief.

“I think it will gradually sink in. I always wanted to race in London as I think the course is really exciting, big white water, they’ve built a super course there and I’ve always wanted to compete there.

“This is the first step and I’m really happy we made it today.”

The second spot on offer for London was claimed by Swiss international Elise Chabbey a further seven places back in 32nd.

Of Craig’s fellow Irish entrants, Helen Barnes finished 38th with Aisling Conlan 40th.

Beijing fourth-placer Eoin Rheinisch and Ciaran Heurteau are also seeking Olympic qualification via the Euros this weekend.

Rheinisch and Heurteau were 17th and 23rd respectively following K1 slalom qualifying, with the same qualifying principle in place.

Ireland to date will be represented in athletics, badminton, canoeing, cycling, equestrian, gymnastics, judo, sailing, shooting, swimming and triathlon – though not all places have been officially allocated yet.

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