Canoeist Jenny Egan can build on summer progress on quest for route to Rio

The Irish Times/Irish Sports Council Sportswoman Award for August

After missing out on qualifying for London 2012 by a single place Jenny Egan might have been forgiven for concluding sport was far too cruel and life much too short to be dealing with such heartache.

Instead, though, the 28-year-old member of the Salmon Leap club in Leixlip just opted to dig a little deeper in her quest to qualify for Rio 2016. And her form through the summer, right up to last week’s World Sprint Championships in Milan, has given her plenty of encouragement.

Back in May, Egan won Ireland's first senior European sprint medal when she took bronze in the K1 5,000 metres final in the Czech Republic, finishing within a second of winner Maryna Litvinchuk of Belarus, and a mere quarter of a second behind silver medallist Irene Burgo of Italy.

It was a measure of Egan’s fitness levels that her day had started at 5.30am, having to compete in the B finals of the K1 500m and K1 200 before taking on the K1 5,000m, all that endurance work over the winter paying dividends.


Come June she maintained her fine form but agonisingly missed out on a medal at the European Games in Azerbaijan by just four hundreths of a second - and only another .7 of a second behind the runner-up, Lani Belcher of Britain.

And last week, Egan endured more frustration when she was just two seconds off a medal at the World Sprint Championships in Milan, only 11 seconds separating the top six.


Again, though, her form was impressive, registering a personal best and setting a new Irish record in the 500m event, while her sixth place finish in the 5,000m was a national best.

Milan was the first of two Olympic qualification events for the 500m, the second in Duisburg, Germany next May, but with just two more qualifying spots available for the distance, it’s a tough challenge. Egan will put more work in through the winter, though, trying to find those extra seconds that would take her all the way to Rio. She will have been more than encouraged by her summer’s work.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times