Hannah Craig, 27, from Armoy, Co. Antrim will represent Ireland at the 2012 London Games in the K1 racing kayak event, having qualified at this year’s European Canoe Slalom Championships in Augsburg, Germany on Friday in the Women’s K1 class.
Her 25th position in the qualifiers proved to be the highest placed by any boat not already qualified for the London Games in August.
Switzerland’s Elise Chabbey took the second place on offer by finishing 32nd at the German venue.
Craig, who formed her own clothing company in an effort to fund her attempt to qualify, told BBC Northern Ireland Sport : “I really love my sport and qualifying for the Olympics will give me the chance to raise the profile of what is a hugely exciting sport”
“I am proud I was able to perform on the day, and want to perform in London, not just be there.
Craig, added: “I am proud to be an Irish athlete and cannot wait for the Games.”
She had previously finished 13th in the World Canoe Slalom Championships in Ljubljana, Slovenia and had even then been confident of qualifying for London 2012. At that time she also paid tribute to coach and partner Hans Bijen, and the Sports Institute Northern Ireland (SINI).
“Success is never achieved alone and I’m lucky to have around me a team of professionals whom I trust. Having people around you who genuinely understand the struggles and the ups and downs of being a full time athlete makes such a difference.”
Hannah also acknowledged the importance of the financial support she received from Sport Northern Ireland through its Athlete Support Programme, “The financial support I receive from Sport Northern Ireland is a key factor in my performance. The specificity of my sport, and not having a white-water slalom course in Ireland, means I need to spend over 180 days abroad training and racing. The cost of travelling and training abroad is huge and Sport Northern Ireland contributes as much as they can, but I do hope to bring on board more ‘supporters’ to ease the financial difficulties I encounter as I head towards (London) 2012.”