Cork's Pat O'Leary wins B final at the Paralympics in Tokyo

The 48-year-old NUI Galway chemistry lecturer is also in action in a semi-final on Saturday
Cork's Pat O'Leary wins B final at the Paralympics in Tokyo

Patrick O'Leary, para-canoe sprint, in action during a training session. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/SPORTSFILE

PAT O’Leary’s bid to make the second Paralympic canoeing final of his career is still on hold but he won the KL3 ‘B Final’ in what he deemed his best performance of the year so far. 

The Cork paddler, who finished sixth in Rio 2016, needed to make the top three to go through to the KL3 kayak final and missed out by just one place, despite his fastest time of the year.

He finished fourth in a season-best time of 42:203 behind Great Britain’s Rio silver medallist Tom Kierey (41:647) in a semi-final won by Australia’s Dylan Littlehales in a blistering 40:223. 

But the 48-year-old NUI Galway chemistry lecturer went on to win the B final in what he felt was his best-executed race this season, giving him a great boost ahead of his VL3 semi-final in the early hours of Saturday morning.

His upcoming VL3 semi-final includes the Rio KL3 bronze medallist Caio Ribeiro de Carvalho from Brazil but Pat is the reigning European in this brand new event.

"The semi-final was tough. 

To be fourth when just three went through was difficult but I knew going in I’d have to give everything and still need to be a bit lucky the way the draw had gone. It was probably the tougher of the two semi-finals.

"That was probably the fastest time I’ve done this year and I was happy that I gave it all I had. Then, even though the time in the B final was .2 of a second slower, that was the best race I’d done this year and I’m very happy with that.

"There’s five in my VL3 semi, three to go through and you could probably cover us with a coin going over the line. It would be fabulous to make a final here but what’s important is that what I get out of the race what I want to.

"I know what I’m capable of. I know what it feels like to do a really good run. If I do that and someone’s ahead of me that’s fine. If I do that and people aren’t ahead of me that’ll be even better."

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