May 10, 2008:

Event: May 7-11th European Slalom Championships (Continental Olympic Qualifier), Krakow, Poland.

An Irish canoe-slalom team of five paddlers all qualified for the semi-finals at the European Championships in Krakow. In the Womens semi-final two Olympic places were on offer and both Hannah Craig and Helen Barnes in the womens kayak category attempted to get a place in Beijing. To qualify they had to finish in the top two nations other than the 12 that had already qualified. In qualification they had finished 19th and 38th respectively, but Craig was second of the nations that had not qualified for Beijing. Two touches on the gates in the semi-final put the Belfast born paddler out of the reckoning and she finished in 30th position. Her time alone would have been just one second off the pace for making qualification. Helen Barnes, who is based in Nottingham had a steady run until the final sequence of gates where she paddled with an aggressive and risky style and was adjudged to have not got her head inside gate 20. The 50 second penalty put her out of the race for Beijing, and she finished in 39th. Both women are still due to compete in the World Cup series and certainly Craig will be looking towards London 2012. Italy and Greece took the qualification spots in this class.

Tomorrow, the Men’s kayaks compete and with three in the semi-final it is likely that one may break through to the final (top 10). In the qualification race, Neil Caffrey was just outside the top 10, with team-mate Ciaran Hearteau in 19th place in the field of 75 boats from 29 countries. Eoin Rheinisch who initially qualified the place in Beijing, was in 29th place.

Further info.
Tadhg Macintyre, Team Leader, 087-8393630 or 0876338512

Additional Information: For competition information, race times and live results visit

IMAGES: Feature pics of the paddlers are available by request or at under the media banner.

Womens Kayak Team
Helen Barnes 36 year old
Hannah Craig 25 year old

Mens Kayak Team
Neil Caffrey
Ciaran Heurtea
Eoin Rheinisch