Patrick O'Leary has qualified for the final of the men's KL3 canoeing event at the Paralympic Games.

The Cork native finished third in his heat in 45.977 before improving on that time in the semi-final, 44.135 enough for another third place and a spot in tomorrow's final at 2.10pm.

It is O'Leary's Paralympic debut as canoeing is making its first appearance at the Games.

The NUI Galway lecturer only took up para-canoeing after having a leg amputated five years ago and has since made six finals at European and World championships.

“It’s amazing, it really is,” the paddler said. “The surroundings here are fabulous, there are a huge number of my family here today. It’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

“The second race was faster and we only had an hour between it and I’d say you’ll probably find not many guys went faster in the second one.

“Technically, I’m paddling really well and today was all about getting there for tomorrow. So we’ll give it a go.”  

Looking ahead to Thursday’s final, O’Leary said: “I’ve nothing to lose now. It’s just a matter of going as quick as I can.

“You never know what pressure will do to other people.

“There is no pressure on me, in the sense that everyone knows I’m ranked seventh.

“I’ll just go out as hard as I can, and hope that some misfortunes befall the others, and maybe I’ll have the race of my life.”