Hi everybody,

Still can’t believe that I actually won the Gold at the Europe Africa Championships at the weekend. It was an amazing event and I’m still pumped.

The Championships were held on the Vaal River near Jo’burg. There were 124 Riders from 16 countries with two new countries competing for the first time this year – Namibia and Israel.

It is the most amazing place, with sun, flat water and great calm conditions. We could hear lions and elephants in the background early in the morning before the competition started each day.

The Irish team’s winter training commitments really paid off as everybody was killing it. Lindsay Whelan, in only her second international competition took the Bronze medal in U14 Girls and Sian Hurst, Irish Open Women champion rode really well, landed her 5, and took the Silver in Open Ladies. Sian only lost out on Gold by 2 points to Caroline Djupso (SWE). While I managed to qualify first in my semi-final heat I knew the Finals would be tough as I was up against Dylan Mitchell (RSA) and Massi Piffaretti (ITA) amongst others.  I was so thrilled to win the Gold Medal as it was really tight in terms of points between Massi, Dylan and me.

Unfortunately Brian Deegan blew his ACL out in practice and wasn’t able to compete but I must give him credit as he was still in great form and up to his usual banter.

In the girls division, young Aisling just missed finals but still ended up getting herself a solid 6th place overall. In the masters division, Jonny Crawford rode so well and managed to get himself 7th so I think he was delighted and of course this was a great contribution to the overall team points!

The two Irish riders in the Open Men category were David Coates and Paul Johnston, both absolutely showed everyone who was boss by qualifying first in their heats straight through to semis. Then unfortunately both just missed finals by a few points but still made our country proud by getting 7th and 10th respectively!!

So overall the Irish Team won a Gold, Silver and Bronze and came third out of 16 countries giving us another Bronze medal. Not bad for a small, cold, wet little country!

In about 20 days I head to Australia for the next World Cup stop so can’t wait for that!

Thanks for reading.