Enniskillen rower Leonora Kennedy targets top 10 place
Enniskillen rower Leonora Kennedy is aiming for a top 10 finish when she takes part in the World Championships for the first time in Korea next week.
Kennedy will represent Ireland with partner Monika Dukarska in the women's double sculls after previously competing for Great Britain and NI.
"This is my first senior championships so it's a big step up," said Kennedy.
"I feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to compete alongside the best in the world. It's a big step up."
"Also I am competing in a country that I probably would not have visited had I not been given this opportunity - that makes it more special," added the Fermanagh girl.
"I have raced at Under-23 world championships, world university championships and European championships three times, winning two gold medals and one bronze with Great Britain, but this is a different ball game altogether."
"I'm really looking forward to racing though and in terms of performance I would be happy if we race with a really good rhythm and produce a fast time.
"I would say we would be happy with a top 10, or a top eight finish would be really good, but that's only possible if we race to our potential."
Kennedy, who has attracted support from the Mary Peters Trust, has the 2016 Olympics in her sights and she regards this week's competition in Chingju as "a building block for the ultimate performance in Rio".
"That's my main aim. I gained a lot of experience from Great Britain rowing and am very grateful for the opportunities I was given there.
"But with the coaching system and the programme that my coach Don McLachlan has in place, allied to the facilities at the National Rowing Centre in Cork, I feel I am now in the right place to get there.
Kennedy will be joined at the championships, which run from 25 August to 1 September, by GB&NI trio Alan Campbell, Richard Chambers and Peter Chambers.
Campbell, three times a medallist in the worlds, competes again in the men's single sculls, while the Chambers brothers are leading contenders in the Lightweight Double Sculls.
The three Coleraine men will begin their campaigns in the heats on Sunday, while Kennedy is in action on Monday.
"I have three or four races spread over a week so the racing format will suit me and it will give me time to recover," said Campbell.
"Some of my competitors went straight back into competition after the Olympics to try to get the edge over us older guys.
"I should be able to put on some good performances and I'd like to see myself in the final, and hopefully with a medal," he added.