The Canoe Sprint Global Olympic qualifier is due to start in the Russian city of Barnaul tomorrow offering a final opportunity to reach the re-arranged Games in Tokyo for athletes from countries yet to earn a quota place.
This International Canoe Federation (ICF) event, scheduled to conclude on Sunday (May 23) offers one place each in the men’s K1 1000 metres, C1 1000m, and K1 200m categories, and the women’s K1 200m, K1 500m and C1 200m classes.
Barnaul made its debut as a host of ICF events in 2018 when the highly successful canoe sprint Super Cup came to the Siberian city.
Ireland’s Jenny Egan will seek qualification in the women’s K1 200m event, having missed out by one place for London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Now the 34-year-old is back in the Olympic race.
"I’ve been so close to it before, and it’s tough when you are so close, and you miss out," Egan, the only elite female paddler from her country, told the ICF.
"But thankfully I love our sport, and I love everything about our sport, and I’m very passionate about K1 5000 metre races, which is in the European Games.
"For me there is so many more aspects to it than just the Olympic Games, so I’m lucky that I have that passion for other distances.
"We had one woman back in the seventies, and we haven’t had a women since then.
"The last time we had a man was 2012, and before that I think Sydney 2000.
"The qualification is what it is, but it is definitely harder for the smaller nations.
"If anything it has gotten harder.
"You had to be top five in the world at the world championships, or top two at the Olympic qualifier for European athletes, and then there’s just one place up for grabs here."
Like her fellow competitors, Egan is using a rental boat for this final Olympic trial.
Elsewhere in the programme, Brandon Wei Cheng of Singapore is hoping to earn a ticket to Tokyo 2020 in the men’s K1 200m, which would make him just the second Singaporean, and the first male, to compete in the canoe sprint at an Olympic Games.
"I’m a little bit nervous, I’ve never been here before, so I’m excited to see this place and excited to race again," Cheng said.
In 2021 international travel is not easy for anyone, but for Singaporeans it is particularly onerous.
Elite athletes can get exceptions allowing them to leave the country, but on their return they face three weeks in compulsory hotel quarantine.