Jenny Egan following her race. Picture: Jantex

Salmon Leap’s Jenny Egan became the first Irish athlete to win an International Canoe Federation (ICF) Senior Canoe Sprint World Championship medal on Sunday as she took bronze in the K1 5,000m event.

“I am delighted to win a bronze medal and to make history becoming the first Irish athlete to win a Senior Canoe Sprint World Championship medal, it is a dream come true,” she said after the race.

“I didn’t get a good start and I fell back to 15th. I made my way up through the groups, chasing, chasing, chasing.

“The atmosphere in Portugal was electric; every time I raced by the grandstand, I heard the crowd chanting ‘Ireland’ which is amazing as we had such a small team there, but so many of my fellow international athlete friends and Portuguese friends were cheering for me.

“A big thanks to everyone for this amazing support, this is what makes our sport so special.”

Her success came in front of her nearest and dearest. Both of Egan’s parents were at the event; Tom Egan was Team Leader for the Irish Canoe Sprint Team and Angie Egan was there as part of her support crew.

She is coached by her brother Peter Egan and her boyfriend Jon Simmons.

She took the start line alongside 28 competitors to battle it out on a tough course that consisted of one long lap of 1,000m and five short laps of 800m.

Egan did not get a great start and found herself back in 15th position after the first 300m. However, she showed her strength and determination by catching the competitors group by group over the next 3,000m.

With 1,700m to go before the finish line, Egan put in a massive sprint to get up into the leading group of four high quality athletes which comprised of Lizzie Broughton of Great Britain (a previous World Championship
medalist), Maryna Litvinchuk of Belarus (Olympic bronze medalist from both London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016), Caitlin Ryan of New Zealand (multiple World Championship medallist) and Emma Jorgensen of Denmark (Olympic silver medalist from Rio de Janeiro 2016).

Shortly after, Egan caught this leading group but both Jorgensen and Ryan were not able to keep the increasing pace and lost contention from the other two.

Egan dug deep and fought to ensure she would be in the medal shake-up in the final 300m. Broughton sprinted for the line winning the gold medal with Litvinchuk winning the silver and Egan the bronze.