Ireland wins gold and bronze at European freestyle kayak championships

Ireland has won gold and bronze in the men’s and women’s categories at the European freestyle kayak championships in France. David McClure, from Kilkenny, and Aoife Hanrahan, from Tipperary, helped the Irish team to its best ever performance at an international freestyle kayak competition, finishing first and third respectively in the senior men’s and women’s events. Freestyle kayaking is a whitewater discipline where the kayaker uses the force of the water to perform tricks on a particular feature of a rapid. In competition, the tricks are scored by judges over three, 45-second heats with the competitor’s final ranking based on their best ride. McClure, who finished fifth in the last world championships in 2019, went into the final day at the Olympic course in Vaires-sur-Marne, near Paris, in first place following Friday’s semi-finals. He put in a near-flawless performance in the finals on Saturday, linking moves such as McNastys, phonics monkeys and space godzillas to land a score of 1496.67 in his second heat. It was enough to see off the challenge from current world champion Joaquim Fontane I Maso, from Catalonia, who finished in second place on 1130 points. Hanrahan started strongly, sticking several high-scoring moves such as McNastys and air loops to land 363.33 points on her first heat. That was enough to earn the 25-year-old pharmacy student the bronze medal behind Poland’s Zofia Tula, who scored 463.33 points in her final heat. Former two-time junior world champion Ottilie Robinson-Shaw, from Britain, won gold with 750 points.