Salmon Leap’s Jegou the class act as thoughts turn to Olympics

by Gazette Reporter

Irish Open Slalom Championships

LIAM Jegou proved the class of the field at the Irish Open Slalom Canoeing Championships held at the Sluice weir slalom course on the river Liffey in Lucan on Sunday.

Competitors had two runs over the course with the fastest time counting and time penalties for touching one of the 22 gates or missing one altogether.

Jegou, who is Ireland’s best hope of a qualifying place at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, was a clear winner of the C1 class with a clean first run in 81.76 seconds. Finishing second with a clean second run was Robert Hendrick in 82.97 seconds, while third was Eoin Moorhouse in 96.43 seconds, which included two penalty seconds for a touch.

Target race for Jegou this season is the World Championships to be held in La Seu d’Urgell in Spain next September. The top eleven nations at this competition will win a place at next year’s Olympics.

“I finished 24th at last year’s World Championships and would need to finish in the top 20 to be sure of a place,” he says.

Training is going well at his base in Pau, France, where he has the company of a few other Irish paddlers as well as many French squad members.

“Thanks to sponsorship from Mike Corcoran, who competed in C2 at the 1992 Olympics for Ireland, I’ve been working with a new coach Nichola Peschier since last November. He’ll be coming with me to five events.”

Jegou, who finished second at the 2014 World Junior Championships, just missed out on qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics, when aged just 20. He then lost a year to a hip injury before returning to competition for the European Championships last year.

The Irish selection races for the World Championships will take place at La Seu in April. “We’ll be spending two weeks there. As well as that, I’ll compete in two of the five World Cup races and also in the World U23 Championships in Krakow in July.”

Winning the K1 men’s category with a best time of 79.87 seconds, including a single two second penalty, was Samuel Curtis. Oisin Farrell was second with a time of 83.91 and Sean Ansell third in 84.70.

Best of the K1 women was Aisling Conlan with 103.20, including four penalty points for two touches. Ciara Farrell was second in 111.58 secs, despite hitting four gates, and Maeve Martin third with 127.94 secs, including one two second penalty. Martin also competed in the C1 class, the only woman to do so, and clocked a time of 204.15 seconds.

Winning a closely fought junior K1 class was Adam Vaugh who had a clean second run in 93.82 seconds. Just over a second adrift for second was Ethan Dowling in 94.84 seconds, while third was Tom Morley in 96.18 seconds.

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