Craig satisfied with reaching K1 final

Hannah Craig finished a very creditable tenth place in the Olympic final of the K1 canoe slalom at the Lee Valley White Water Park.

The Armoy kayaker, paddling for Ireland, had qualified for the semi-final in fourteenth place and needed a top ten place to make the final run.

She recorded a time of 116.12 seconds that included two penalties that placed her tenth overall but then had to wait around as a lengthy appeal was put in by China only to come to nothing.

Going first in the final Craig had six penalties and a time of 127.36 seconds.

“Definitely making the final was a big, big achievement. I’m not fully satisfied with how I paddled in the final,” she said.

“There was a protest issue, which went on for quite some time. I didn’t know it was thirty minutes before the final that I was starting. I kind of lacked a little bit in my preparation going into the final just time wise. I would have liked a better final but hey I am happy to have made it.”

The atmosphere at the venue was electric with Craig’s final run coming just minutes after Great Britain had taken gold and silver in the men’s C2 event.

“I was just trying to stay focused. I just go through basic things. I go through the lines,” she added.

“I have directives when I paddle down and that is what I say. I talk out loud so I can block out the noise and not hear what the commentators say. It is my little trick to get me in the zone and get me going.”

She added: “The noise is actually a motivator. It really picks you up and helps you down the river. It actually overtakes the commentary because sometimes when you are paddling you can hear commentary.

“But because the noise is so intense here it is almost like an energy booster you get. It has been great, great racing here.”

Craig is hoping her performance will now bolster the publicity of her sport and get it more funding from the Irish Sports Council.

“I am just delighted that people have gotten to see my sport and to see it at the best.

“I think we have got really good coverage at home. It is a great sport; Ireland is a land of water.

“We need more kids paddling canoe slalom or canoeing in any form. We should be really good at this sport. I love my sport. There are loads of different factors that come in to making a decision. Financial is always a struggle.

“If I can financially do it and get a system into place, I’d love to keep on going.

“Sport NI and the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland have been very good to me.

“The Irish Sports Council, not so much. I hope it does change now because it is about now. There are no excuses now. I came tenth in the Olympic final.

“Hopefully we can build from this for the future.”