There were big celebrations in Germany this morning, as Ireland’s Pat O’Leary secured a para-canoeing slot for Ireland at this year’s Paralympics Games in Rio when he came first in the ‘B’ Final at the ICF Para-Canoe World Championships.
It has been a gruelling few days of competition for the Galway-based Cork man as, although he secured two fantastic PB times – which are also National Records – in the heats on Tuesday and the semi-finals on Wednesday, he was unlucky to just miss out on reaching the A Final by one slot.
As a result, the pressure was well and truly on for this morning’s race and in order to ensure that Ireland would have a canoe at this year’s Games, O’Leary had to win the B Final, which he did in emphatic fashion, winning the race in a phenomenal PB time of 42.88.
Speaking afterwards he said: “The last month or so has gone really well and to get PB times in the heat and then again in the semi-final was brilliant.
“I knew what I had to do this morning,” he reflected. “There were lots of nerves as in reality, 2000 training sessions over four years came down to this – this 40 seconds, but I executed the race plan well and was absolutely delighted to win the race. It was great to have my family there as they have been my greatest support too.”