Lisa Kearney will be the first woman to compete for Ireland in judo at the Olympics after securing her place at the London Games.

The Belfast judoka has qualified thanks to her current world ranking, as the top 14 automatically qualify for this summer’s showpiece.

Official confirmation will be announced next week, but as things stand, Kearney cannot be overtaken by her closest rivals following this week’s European Championships in Russia.

Kearney’s qualification quest has been plagued by injury that she picked up at a World Cup event in Sofia.

Kearney said: “Although it is not official yet I am really delighted that I have qualified a place for Ireland at the London 2012 Olympics.

“It has been a long qualification process and I can’t quite believe it is over. I think it will only sink in early next week when I get official confirmation."

She added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank my coach Ciaran Ward who has coached me for 14 years and I wouldn’t be here without him.

“I would also like to thank my wider support team of the Irish Sports Council, Sport Northern Ireland, Sports Institute Northern Ireland, the Irish Judo Association, the Irish Institute of Sport and also the Olympic Council of Ireland.”

The Irish Judo Association congratulated Kearney following her qualification, stating: “The Board of the Irish Judo Association would like to congratulate Lisa Kearney on her outstanding performances over the last two years to earn her place in the London 2012 Games. We wish Lisa the very best for London 2012.”