The attentive amongst you will have noticed a new face in green in recent months. Pentathlon Ireland is delighted to welcome Marek Makay to the Emerald Isle and he will undoubtedly be a huge asset to the Association over the coming months.
Originally from Poland, Marek recently concluded his role with the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon last summer after 16 years developing the sport in the country. In his time there he had numerous successes on the World stage across all age groups. In learning of Marek’s availability, Pentathlon Ireland, with the financial help of the Irish Sports Council, were able to secure Marek’s services.
Marek has already proved to be a valuable addition to the coaching team, bringing vast experience to the High Performance Squad as they gear up for their final Olympic qualification push. Marek recently took time out from his coaching role to answer a few questions about his experiences so far in Ireland.
How are you enjoying your time in Ireland?
Ireland is a beautiful country and I look forward to having more time to explore and learn about it. The Irish are very friendly; at the moment I’m staying at Eanna Bailey’s house and I feel like a family member. I feel that we all live in pentathlon and this is a fantastic feeling.
What’s the biggest change from Egypt & Ireland?
First, I am very happy that after a short break I returned to the pentathlon and that I can still train world-class athletes. For the last 17 years I trained the Egyptian team and we started at a very low level and gradually we started to conquer in the world. The Egyptians were not accustomed to hard work systematically, they had a lot of complexes, but they gradually become accustomed to it. From 2000 to 2010 we have a lot of success across all age groups. In Ireland it is a little different. Here we have a small group of athletes at a high level who are ready to fight for good results. The key to their success will be the fencing and I hope I will help them to do that.
What do you think about the state of Modern Pentathlon in Ireland? What do you think of the level of athletes?
Pentathlon Ireland has strong ambitions and I hope that someone from the Irish team will advance to the next Olympic Games London 2012. The Irish athletes are already at a good standard in the world but my most important goal is to work with them in fencing. We spend a lot of time on foreign training camps to benefit from good sparring partners. Unfortunately, in Dublin, fencing is not a very popular sport and the level isn’t very high. We have some younger athletes and these will be the future of the sport in Ireland but our immediate goal is with the older athletes and Olympic qualification.
What lessons did you learn working with the Egyptian athletes that you can use in Ireland?
The main problem in Ireland is that the athletes all train separately. In Egypt, everybody trained together in all the events but here it’s not been possible to make the same arrangements. The best thing for Pentathlon Ireland would be to create a training centre where the athletes can train together as a squad. Lindsey has recently secured the use of a barn that we hope to convert to a training centre in the near future which will make a big difference to how our athletes train.
What are your plans for Irish Pentathlon?
The immediate plans are already in place and have been for the past few months. We are working hard to accomplish all that we’ve planned. I hope that we will succeed. The key to this will be keeping the athletes in good health and injury free – this is what I’ve learned over 40 years working with the Polish and Egyptian athletes.
I believe that someone will qualify for the Olympic Games in 2012, and that maybe in four years we will be competitive in the fight for medals. This task is very difficult, but feasible, the athletes must believe that anything is possible.
What is your best advice to the Irish athletes?
The most important thing is to have faith in what you are doing. You have to believe in the coach, the training and your own head. Athletes need to be aware that while modern pentathlon is one sport, there needs to be a balance maintained in training for the different disciplines. Athletes must try to find something from each session that they can improve. Athletes must never put their hand up and say ‘I can’t stand it’, they must always look for a way to progress. This is the most important advice for my Irish athletes.
I would like to thank everybody who is involved in Pentathlon Ireland. The Board, the Committee members and especially the parents of the athletes for their care and assistance with the athletes and coaches – without them everything would be very difficult and not possible.