Clare will have a representative at this year’s Olympic Games.
Ballyvaughan native Liam Jegou will compete in the Canoe Slalom event in the C1 category, which is due to be held in Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre in Tokyo on July 26 and July 27.
Jegou has already stamped his mark on the international stage, winning silver in the 2014 Junior World Championships and bronze in the 2019 U-23 World Championships. The 24-year-old is only the second Irish athlete ever to compete in the C1 Canoe Slalom at the Olympics, with the only other athlete being Mike Corcoran, who last competed in Atlanta 1996.
He said: “Being an Olympian has always been my biggest dream since I started training at 11 years old. The past month has been unbelievable knowing that I going to be competing for Ireland at the Olympics. In my sport, the Olympics is everything and it is what everybody works towards. It is such a select thing and there is only one athlete per nation that gets to go. When you get that chance, you just want to give it your all. I am a real competitor and I have had some good successes as a junior and U-23. I have always loved sports whether it was football, rugby, or athletics. I did them all and I just really wanted to compete for Ireland. Most people only get to go to the Olympic Games maybe once or twice in their lives so I was certainly not going to let that opportunity pass me”.
Olympic Federation of Ireland Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, Tricia Heberle said: “It’s very exciting, this is our first athlete to be approved as part of Team Ireland for the 2020 Olympics – it’s great for the sport and great for Liam. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to support sports and our athletes to qualify and perform at the Games. It’s a real team effort with our National Federations, the Sport Ireland Institute and a range of other support groups working together with the athletes as our priority. Liam has his own story and we are so pleased to be supporting the next chapter in his journey as he prepares for the Tokyo Olympic Games.”
Canoeing Ireland Performance Director Jon Mackey described the significance of this for his sport.
“It’s big for any sport to qualify for an Olympic Games. For canoeing, it’s great for the exposure of the sport, we are relatively small, and it’s great to tap into the proud tradition of Irish canoeing at the Olympic Games.”
Jegou was nominated for the 2020 slot after finishing on top in the three-race selection criteria, which included the World Championships in Spain, the event in which Ireland qualified the coveted Olympic berth courtesy of Robert Hendrick, another talented Irish racer.
He has spent most of his life in France, engaged in training in Pau on whitewater courses.