Sprint canoeist Jenny Egan of Salmon Leap took a first World Cup canoeing medal for Ireland when she finished second in the 5000m at the Senior Sprint World Cup 2 in Szeged, Hungary.
Egan, in the middle of exams at DCU, had struggled in the 200m. After a good rest, she was determined to go for it in the 5000m, which took place on Sunday evening in front of 20,000 Hungarian canoe fanatics.
From the start, the Irishwoman led out a group of four, ignoring the carnage behind which saw at least one favoured local competitor taking an early swim. To the delight of the crowd, Renata Csay of Hungary was soon setting the pace on the first lap of the five-lap course. Sitting on her tail were Debora Niche of Germany, Asumi Ohmura of Japan and Egan.
On the second lap, Ohmura dropped back, leaving three paddlers to fight it out for the medals. Csay made a decisive break with just over a lap to go and by the finish had built up a six-second lead. In the chase for the line, a delighted Egan just edged out Niche, beating her by a second.
Sticking to the traditional short distances was Barry Egan, also Salmon Leap, who competed in both the K1 500m and 1000m events. Over 500m, he lead all the way in his heat winning in 1:40.395. After finishing fourth in the semi-finals, he contested the B final, where his time of 1:44.998 put him fractionally behind the winner, Nicholas Stubbs of South Africa.
Over 1000m, Watkins was second in his heat and fifth in the semi-final. An excellent time of 3:36.389 saw him finish second in the B final. These results rank Watkins at 11th overall for both events with his aim to make an A final.
Although they only came together last April, the K2 pairing of Peter Egan of Salmon Leap Canoe Club and Sean Marchetti of Celbridge Paddlers Club qualified for the 200m semi-final.
Next up is this weekend's Duisberg World Cup, where competition will be fierce, with many strong nations using it as a European Championships trial. Egan and Watkins will compete in the K1 500m and 1000m events, with the K2 boat going in the 200m.