Tipperary’s Beibhinn Butler makes history at world freestyle canoe event


Three competitors from Tipperary were part of the Irish team which took part in the ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships in Nottingham last weekend.
It was the Clonmel trio of Aoife Hanrahan, Rory Kearney and Beibhinn Butler, with 17-year-old Beibhinn putting in outstanding performances as she finished fourth in the senior women’s canoe event and fifth in the race junior female kayaker.
In doing so, she became the first Irish athlete to reach both the canoe and kayak finals in a World Series. As a female junior, her performances throughout the weekend were considered exceptional, as she competed at a very high level with more experienced competitors. The senior canoe event is particularly challenging, both mentally and physically, with competitors having to kneel in the canoe and use only one blade.
Rory Kearney, meanwhile, finished eighth in the world in the junior men’s event, which was a creditable showing at his first world event.
Beibhinn will take his Leaving Cert at Presentation School in Clonmel next year and his performances have been a source of great pride for his parents, Carmel and Michael Butler.
After going through qualifying and semi-finals to reach the finals in both categories, his father Michael said his top five finishes were a just reward for his dedication, which is “unmatched, like that of all Irish Freestylers. To prepare for the championships, she spent several weeks training in Nottingham.
“Beibhinn has spent a total of six weeks in Nottingham since the start of the year,” says Michael.
This included two weekends, a one week camp at Easter and the whole month of June.
The entire 23-strong Irish team – the largest to ever represent the country at an overseas canoeing event – which competed in Nottingham last weekend had followed two to three years of intensive training, which included trips to Nottingham and long winter evenings on the water in Tuam.

Beibhinn has been paddling the river since childhood and competing in freestyle for four years.
A member of the Clonmel-based South East Freestyle Club, which has paddlers from all over the country, she is coached by current European champion David McClure, from Kilkenny, who also finished fourth in the senior men’s category at the world championships . to his credit.
“All the young paddlers in South Tipperary look up to Aoife Hanrahan, she was their inspiration,” says Michael Butler.
Aoife made history in Paris last October by winning Ireland’s first-ever women’s medal at the European Freestyle Kayaking Championships, earning herself the immense honor of being the first Irish woman to stand on a podium at an International Canoe Federation event.
She won bronze in the senior women’s category and became the fourth Irish athlete to medal in an international freestyle event.
Last weekend’s championships were held on a purpose-built 700m long whitewater canoe slalom course. It was built on the River Trent at the National Water Sports Center at Holme Pierrepoint Country Park in Nottingham.
Athletes came from all over the world to participate, including the United States, Japan, Spain, Finland, Canada, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Germany, Poland, Austria and Ireland, with a competitor representing Ukraine.



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