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Canoeist takes on Liffey - backwards


Canoeist Niall Power

Canoeist Niall Power

Canoeist Niall Power

This canoeist is aiming to make history tomorrow by becoming the first person ever to complete the gruelling Liffey Descent course backwards.

Up to 1,000 competitors will tackle the world-famous marathon canoe race, which crosses 10 hazardous weirs and stretches a punishing 28km from Straffan Weir in Co Kildare to Trinity rowing club in Dublin.

There's no doubt that spectators' eyes will be drawn on experienced paddler Niall Power, as he attempts to navigate the entire course backwards.

Niall (51), from Maynooth, Co Kildare, said: "I've paddled the Liffey Descent 14 times and it's hard enough going forwards, so this is going to be extremely challenging.

"I came up with the idea a few months ago when I was at the pub with some mates and one of them bet me that I wouldn't be able to complete the course backwards.

"I took him up on the bet and I've been training for this for the past three months. It will be physically much more demanding going backwards because I'll be using a different set of muscles and it's going to be difficult because I'm not going to be able to see where I'm going."

Determined Niall, who's a self-employed motor mechanic, said all money raised from his effort will be passed on to LauraLynn, Ireland's only children's hospice.

The father-of-two vowed to complete the whole course facing the wrong way - however long it takes.

"There are parts of the race where you have to get out of the kayak and run and I'll be doing that backwards too," he said. "There's a good chance I'll find myself swimming in the Liffey a few times.

"But I'm a stubborn character and even if I end up dislocating my shoulder, I'm determined to finish it and become the first person to complete the Liffey Descent backwards."

Amanda Kenny, spokeswoman for LauraLynn, said they were thrilled with the fundraising efforts of Niall.

"LauraLynn@home which launched in June, brings our children's hospice care into the comfort of the family home. This project will cost €800,000 to run in year one in two regions. We've raised €650,000 so far, so we urgently need to raise the rest to complete this life-changing programme," she said. "Next year we're planning to bring the service nationwide."