Ireland’s Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe has taken a giant step towards his third Olympic Games after winning a bronze medal at the season-opening UIPM 2020 Pentathlon World Cup Cairo.
The Kilkenny athlete, 28, put a difficult 2019 behind him with a terrific performance in the Egyptian capital, making up three places in the Laser Run to snatch a place on the podium.
Finishing third in the first of five World Cup events will be a timely boost for the two-time Olympian’s position in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic ranking list, which will determine the majority of the remaining qualification places.
The result backed up Lanigan-O’Keeffe’s assertion that he feels in the best physical shape of his career this season, having spent part of the off-season on an intensive altitude training camp in Iten, Kenya.
Lanigan-O’Keeffe said: “I am really happy with that. I put in a really big block of training over the winter and I felt really fit out there today. I hope now I can continue for the rest of the season on this trajectory.
“My swimming was actually about six seconds slower than usual, but that’s because I really concentrated my training on running and fencing over the winter, and it paid dividends. It feels really good.”
It may have been short of his usual high standards, but a swim of 2mins 7.02secs was still enough to rank Lanigan-O’Keeffe 10th in the opening discipline. He protected that position during a fencing round in which he scored 20 victories and 15 defeats, and then strengthened his position with a perfect ride for 300 points that enabled him to vault up to sixth place overall.
Lanigan-O’Keeffe stayed in the chasing pack throughout the Laser Run, keeping pressure on the leaders and leaving enough in the tank for the final sprint to the line. He passed world champion Valentin Belaud of France at the final shoot and won a tussle for bronze with Marvin Dogue of Germany and Alexander Lifanov of Russia.
An elated Lanigan-O’Keeffe celebrated as he crossed the line to take his place on the podium alongside gold medallist Adam Marosi of Hungary and Korea’s Jun Woongtae, who took silver.
With Sunday’s Mixed Relay still to come, Lanigan-O’Keeffe’s bronze medal built on the strong performance of Sive Brassil, who finished 16th in the women’s final, and Natalya Coyle who also reached the final.