Salmon Leap stalwart following a rich family tradition

 

Sportswoman of the Month (May): Canoeist Jenny Egan:WITH BOTH her parents involved in canoeing for as long as she can remember – and for some time before that – and with a brother, Peter, an international in the sport, there was always a fair chance Jenny Egan would take up the discipline.

It was evident enough, at an early stage, though, that the sport was going be something more than a hobby, not least when she finished her underage career in 2005 with a silver medal at the World Junior Marathon Championships in Perth, Australia. The year before she’d finished fifth, the year before that 15th, so the progress was clear.

A member of the Salmon Leap club in Leixlip, Egan’s development has been assisted by the Sport Scholarship Programme at DCU, where she is a final year Athletic Therapy and Training student. The programme, which includes financial assistance, access to top-class facilities, fitness programmes and other support services, has, said Egan, “benefited me immensely during my time at university”, allowing her to pursue both her studies and her sporting career without either suffering.

By the time she moved in to the senior international ranks in 2006 Egan, who took a year out before starting her DCU course, had intensified her fitness programme, training twice a day, doing “three paddling sessions, three gym sessions, three swims and three runs every week” to improve her general fitness.

Her hard work paid off, with a string of encouraging results in both the sprint and marathon disciplines, taking bronze in the 2006 British Senior National Marathon Canoeing Championships and achieving a ranking of 15th in Europe in the Under-23 1000m category and 14th in the world at Senior Marathon level.

Egan’s finest hour came in the 5,000m at the Senior Sprint Canoe World Cup in Hungary a year ago when she became the first Irish female sprint canoeist to medal at this level. She took silver in the race, finishing just six seconds behind winner Renata Csay of Hungary.

And last month Egan collected another silver medal, this time at World Cup Two in Racice, Czech Republic, where she finished just 2.7 seconds behind Britain’s Lani Belcher in the Sprint Canoe K1 5,000m.

The Irish woman was one of a group of five competitors who broke from the rest of the field, their push for medals hardly helped by a mistake by the officials that saw the bell for the final lap sounded early. Because of the confusion, the organisers awarded both Egan and Anna Adamova of the Czech Republic silver medals.

Egan’s long-term ambitions are to medal in the Senior Marathon World and European Championships, to qualify for the Olympics (although, currently only the 200m and 500m distances are included in the women’s canoeing programme) – short term, she wants to improve her European and World Rankings. She’s on track, it’s fair to say.

MONTHLY AWARDS SO FAR: This year's awards cover Dec 2010 to Nov 2011

December

Fionnuala Britton (Athletics)

The Wicklow runner just missed out on a medal at the European Cross Country Championships, finishing fourth but given the same time as the runner in third.

January

Leona Maguire (Golf)

The 16-year-old won the Portuguese Amateur Open Championship, which featured over 80 of Europe’s leading amateurs, by a remarkable 15 strokes.

February

Fiona Coghlan (Rugby)

Coghlan captained Ireland to Six Nations’ victories over Italy and Scotland and just a two-point defeat to France in February. The team, without several of its most experienced players, went on to finish third in the table.

March

Lisa Maguire (Golf)

Lisa followed up her twin Leona’s January success by winning the Spanish International Amateur Championship, a victory that lifted her in to the top 10 of the world rankings.

April

Nina Carberry (Horse racing)

Nina became only the second woman to win the Irish Grand National when she rode Organisedconfusion to victory at Fairyhouse.