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Canoeist Liam Jegou becomes first Irish athlete formally selected for Tokyo Olympics

The Clare native won a race-off to earn the coveted nomination.

Liam Jegou.
Liam Jegou.
Image: Sportsfile

CANOE SLALOM RACER Liam Jegou has become the first Irish athlete to be formally selected for the Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year.

The 24-year-old was nominated to represent Ireland by Canoeing Ireland based on his performances across three separate races, including the World Championships. Jegou has been selected ahead of Robert Hendrick, who qualified the Irish boat for the Games at the World Championships. 

Jegou is based in France but hails from Ballyvaughan in Clare, and has previously won silver at the 2014 Junior World Championship and bronze at the U23 World Championships last year.

“Being an Olympian has always been one of my biggest dreams”, said Jegou. 

“I started training when I was 11 or 12, the past month has been unbelievable knowing that I am going to compete for Team Ireland in the Olympics. In my sport the Olympics is everything, it’s what everyone works for in their sport.

“It’s such a select thing; there’s only one athlete per nation that gets to go and when you to go you just want to give it your all. Most people only get to go to the Games once or twice in their lives, and I’m certainly not going to let the opportunity pass me.”

Jegou will compete at the C1 Canoe class at the Tokyo Games, becoming only the second Irish athlete to do so, the only other being Mike Corcoran who last raced at the Atlanta Games in 1996. 

The C1 class differs to the K1 class, in which Ireland have been represented in 1992, 2000, 2004, and 2012. Athletes in the C1 class use a single-bladed paddle while kneeling in the canoe, whereas K1 racers are seated while using a double-bladed paddle. 

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Gavin Cooney

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