Raphoe’s Chloe Magee and Fionnuala Britton achieved major success at the weekend for themselves and Donegal.
Magee clinched her place on the Irish Olympic team by reaching the quarter-finals of the Yonex Irish Badminton Championships in Lurgan, while Britton (with strong connections in Ballintra and Ballyshannon) created her own piece of history by winning the European senior Cross-Country title in Slovenia.
The 23-year-old Magee, who became the first Irish badminton player to win a match at the Olympics when she competed in Beijing, is over the moon at securing her place in London.
“I’m just delighted. Basically that’s it sealed and delivered now,” said Chloe.
Although she will not be confirmed for the Olympics until the end of the badminton year in April, Chloe secured her place with two great wins on Friday, defeating French player Barbara Matias 21-12, 21-13 and then came behind against a fancied Dutch opponent Judith Meulenjijks. She lost the first set 21-12 but showed great resolve in coming back to take the second 21-11 and in the third set Magee dominated to triumph by 21-11.
“I have had ten good tournaments, so it’ll only be an injury that will stop me. All my focus now will go into training for the Olympics,” said Magee.
Chloe lost out in the semi-final to former world number three PI Honygan of France, in a very tight three set match to the number one seed 21-11, 15-21, 21-17.
Chloe, partnering her brother Sam Magee also lost out on a semi final place in the mixed doubles after losing in straight sets to Denmark’s Rasmus Bonde and Maria Helsbol 21-13, 21-10.
Chloe said: “Hongyan is a world class player and it was my best performance against her. After winning the second set I felt I had a chance but I started the third set a bit slowly and she managed to just stay a head of me. Overall I was happy with my performance here in Lisburn but obviously a bit disappointed with the results in the mixed doubles”.
For Fionnuala Britton, it was a case of keep trying and success will come. The Wicklow woman can boast of Donegal grandparents and after finishing fourth last year, she came home in style on Sunday to be the first Irish woman since Catherina McKiernan in 1994 to take gold in this European event.
“This is what I wanted ultimately. The gold medal is what everyone wants,” said Fionnuala. Younger sister, Una was a member of the Irish team in the U-23 event, while Letterkenny AC’s Ruairi Finnegan was a member of the Irish junior team, finishing 65th.