Ireland stormed to silver in the mixed relay event at the Sarasota World Cup today (Sunday). Irish Olympians, Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe and Natalya Coyle made a late charge for the podium by moving from eighth to second in the final combined run/shoot event.
Ireland scored 15 victories in fencing to begin the day in sixth position. Coyle and Lanigan-O’Keeffe produced the second fastest swim time of 1:58,35 to move up to fourth overall. A costly show jumping round from the Irish athletes saw them drop down to eighth place before the combined run/shoot event.
Coyle shot well for the first series making up ground on athletes ahead of her but it was her second 800m run where she surged through the field and overtook the leading Russian athlete and handing over to Lanigan-O’Keeffe in first place.
Lanigan-O’Keeffe kept his cool on the range and ran stride for stride with World number one and World Champion Alexsander Lesun but Lesun proved too strong in the final 800m and pulled away from the young Irish talent.
The Irish team’s time for the combined event of 11:56,16 was the fastest.
Russia won gold, Ireland silver and Canada came through to take the bronze medal.
Lanigan-O’Keeffe who shone in the individual qualification event was disappointed with his performance in the men’s final where he finished 28th yesterday (Saturday) but felt like he redeemed himself today: “I knew I would be tired after competing in the final yesterday but my motivation was to get on that podium. When I was exhausted in the swimming and running I just kept positive thinking of the opportunity”
Coyle who failed to make the final in the individual event earlier in the week was delighted with the result: “I’m so happy as I didn’t make the final and felt I had a point to prove. Hopefully we can keep this momentum for the rest of the world cup series and building towards Olympic qualification”.
Andy Mackenzie, acting Performance Director for the Irish team was delighted with the spirit shown by the young Irish athletes: “With this being the start of the Olympic qualification season, both Arthur and Natalya are showing some great form which really bodes well for the future”.
This result equals the best performance by Irish athletes at a World Cup as Coyle previously won silver with teammate Eanna Bailey at the Palm Springs World Cup in 2013.
Both Coyle and Lanigan-O’Keeffe now return to Ireland to resume training after a three week altitude camp in Colorado. Focus will now be on the second World Cup event in Cairo in March where both athletes will be aiming to replicate this form in the individual event.
- In 2012, Natalya Coyle and Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe began the first Irish athletes to qualify for the Olympic Games in modern pentathlon.
- Natalya Coyle finished 9th at London 2012, was Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe 25th
- Pentathlon Ireland High Performance Programme is supported by the Irish Sports Council. Natalya Coyle and Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe are carded athletes.
- Pentathlon Ireland train at the National Pentathlon Centre at the National Sports Campus