Over the weekend 31st-1st April saw the Sluice weir in St Catherines park, Lucan come alive with athletes looking for a coveted spot at the European selection event in Augsburg, Germany in May.
Leading the charge was double Olympian (4th place in Beijing) and Salmon Leap paddler Eoin Rheinisch looking to retain his spot on the team with Ciaran Heurteau quickly coming through the ranks as an extreamly talented international paddler close on his heels.
With the men's selection taking the headlines with experience and technique a important a fitness and strength the races were fast and technical.
One weekend 3 races - top placing take the team spots for Olympic selection.
The first race of the weekend kicked off starting with senior men running through women's, u23 and Junior a fast start saw Eoin take 2 clear runs with Ciaran faster but dropping valuable seconds with an unfortunate touch. Fighting for 3rd place Patrick Hynes another experienced paddler was being pushed hard by yougster Samual Curtis (18) of Wild Water Kayak Club. With Sam taking the 3rd spot in the first race leaving Paddy trailing in 4th.
The second race saw a reversal of placings with no practice time the athletes could only study the course from the bank, this time a single run meant they had to make it count this time Ciaran took 1st, Eoin 2nd, Patrick 3rd and Sam 4th
In the women's the places were hotly contested with Hannah Craig, Helen Barnes and Aisling Conlan all fighting for the 3 available spots. All keen to take the title as Irish number one.
In the junior ranks Cade Ryan was looking smooth dropping time overcooking a tough downstream but a master class if technical paddling really showed the gathering crowds he's a telent for the future.
As the water levels dropped on a cool Saturday evening the athletes knew it would all come down to Sundays 3rd race with everyone still well in the mix.
Sunday morning saw a glorious day with a larger release of water by the ESB tidying up a few shallow lines and really creating a fantastic third day of racing. With the final selection race up first followed by the Irish open event 47 competitors eagerly awaited the start.
Once again senior men led the proceeding showing the crowd why he is Irish number one Eoin Rheinisch took the win with a fast run followed closely by Ciaran Heurteau. Both Eoin and Ciaran travel the world competing and training as full time athletes, both an absolute pleasure to watch and really nice guys always on hand to support the developing juniors a real credit to the sport.
The battle for third place really came down to the wire with paddy taking unfortunate touches and Sam having an unusually bad run of form, the times were close but the young Wild Water youngster just nipped in front of Patrick to take the 3rd spot and a place at the Olympic qualifiers in May.
In the women's race the three lined up knowing they each had to paddle to their best to guarentee themselves the top spots with the pressure off the European qualifiers all three would be representing. The races were fast with the women showing spirit and skill to negotiate the tight course.
With the runs results in, saw Hannah Craig in pole position and Helen Barnes in 2nd place leaving Aisling in third.
Once the selection races were finished it was time for the open event this was the fun event with competitors ranging from Irish team paddlers of other disciplines to those long retired but still out to have a go. With the aim to get through as many gates as possible the runs were counted as opposed to tenghths of a second as in the selection in the less serious open event we were discussing minutes. With Niall Power taking the much converted win followed by Adrian Durrant in second and Bernard Walsh 3rd in the men's event. The women's event was won by Mairead Barnwell of Rockhoppers kayak club.
The selection event was an opportunity to see Ireland's top paddlers back on home turf with many spending the majority of the year competing and training as full time athletes. We wish all our athletes every success in the European Olympic Qualifier in May and hope to see them representing Ireland at the London Olympic Games 2012.