Paralympics: Pat O’Leary paddles his way to two canoeing semi-finals

Barry McClements finishes campaign and points towards podium finishes in Paris

Ireland’s Pat O’Leary of Ireland competing in the men’s VL3 200-metre sprint heats at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo. Photograph:  Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Ireland’s Pat O’Leary of Ireland competing in the men’s VL3 200-metre sprint heats at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo. Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

 

Ireland’s Pat O’Leary has made it through to the semi-finals in both the kayak KL3 and Va’a VL3 events at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The 48-year-old from Cork, who reached the kayak final in Rio five years ago came through a heat that was top heavy with fancied paddlers.

Cork born, Galway based university professor

He qualified alongside the reigning Paralympic KL3 champion Serhii Yemelianov and the silver and bronze medallists from Rio, Calo Ribeiro de Carvalho of Brazil and Britain’s Tom Keiry. An hour and a half later O’Leary was back in action in the heats of the Va’a – it’s an outrigger canoe with a single paddle, an event that’s appearing in the Games for the first time – a discipline in which he is the European champion – and he made Saturday’s semi-finals.

O’Leary , who works as a university professor in Galway, said: “They were both good races. In the Va’a, I had a bit of a wobble in the middle so that’s something to work on but I got it back together again towards the end in a fairly stacked heat.

“It’s great to get those first races done because generally speaking I improve as regattas go on. I have a better idea of where I am in the kayak and think I’ll be there or thereabouts in terms of making the A final.”

In the pool, Sligo-based Patrick Flanagan, making his first appearance of the meet, finished in seventh place in the S6 400m freestyle heats. Barry McClements brought the curtain down on his Paralympics by claiming 10th place overall after the heats of his favoured 100m butterfly event.

When asked about his Tokyo experience overall, he said: “I always knew I would [make a] final here and I did [make a] final. I can’t beat myself up too much, but am looking forward to Paris; and yeah I have full confidence in myself that I will be on the podium there.”

Ireland schedule

Day 10 - Friday
Canoeing
2:12am:
KL3 canoe semi-final, Pat O’Leary
3:44am: KL3 final, Pat O’Leary (subject to qualifying)

Cycling
1:30am:
C4-5 Road Race Final, Ronan Grimes
1:35am: C1-3 Road Race Final, Richael Timothy
5:00am: B Tandem road-race, Katie-George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal
5:00am: B Tandem road-race, Martin Gordon & Eamon Byrne

Swimming
1:23am:
S6 100m backstroke Heat, Patrick Flanagan

Day 11 - Saturday

Athletics
1:38am:
F40 Shot Put, Mary Fitzgerald
11:12am: T38 1500m final, Michael McKillop

Canoeing
2:19am:
VL3 canoe semi-final, Patrick O’Leary
3:48am: VL3 Canoe final, Patrick O’Leary (subject to qualifying)

Shooting
4:30am:
SH2 R9, Philip Eaglesham

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