Heurteau bids for London spot in Augsburg


CANOEING NEWS:CIARÁN HEURTEAU is not a name familiar to many Irish sports fans, but the 24-year-old goes into action in Germany this weekend hoping to claim the right to represent Ireland at London 2012.

Heurteau came out on top at the recent Ireland K1 canoe slalom trial and will join Eoin Rheinisch, who finished fourth in this discipline at the Beijing Olympics, and Patrick Hynes in the men’s team for the European Championships in Augsburg, which serves as the Olympic qualifier in the sport.

Hannah Craig, Helen Barnes and Aisling Conlon make up the women’s team.

There are two Olympic places for both men and women, and they will go to the top two boats from countries which have not already qualified.

The Irish Canoe Union has decided the athlete who qualifies the boat will go to London.

Heurteau was born in the suburbs of Paris but his mother is Irish and he first competed for Ireland in 2006. He missed out on qualifying a boat for London at last year’s World Championships by less than a second, but feels he has moved on since then. “Looking at how I am coming into this race and how I came into the race at the Worlds, it’s a different feeling. I have never come into a race as prepared as I am now. It (the World Championships) was disappointing, but you live and learn. That’s what it is all about.”

Heurteau is involved in a film-making company called Twelve Productions and his high-quality videos, some of which are posted on ciaranheurteau.com, mean he has been in demand. But he has no doubt right now where his focus is. “For now it is all about this weekend,” he says.

Rheinisch, who had a disappointing World Championships, is reported to be going well, and fully recovered from a shoulder injury which affected him last season. He is now working with a new coach, Chileo Schmidt. Along with Craig and Heurteau he has put in a block of training in Australia and has been based in Augsburg in recent months.

Hynes gets his chance after Sam Curtis, a junior athlete who finished third in the selection process, stepped aside for this event.

The rivals for the Olympic spots are headed by hot favourites Slovakia, but Russia, Croatia, Portugal and the Netherlands are also dangers. “Any of those countries have the potential to be in the top two,” Heurteau said yesterday.

Craig finished 13th at the World Championships in 2010 but bowed out in the heats at last years’ World Championships. However, her overall form in recent seasons suggests she could be a real contender to land an Olympic place this weekend.