A satisfying silver medal for Natalya Coyle and Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe enabled Ireland to sign off from the UIPM 2019 Pentathlon World Cup Final in Tokyo with a smile.
- Caption: Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe and Natalya Coyle with Pentathlon Ireland support team (l to r) Andy Mackenzie, Martina McCarthy and Andrei Fedotov at UIPM 2019 Pentathlon World Cup Final Tokyo
A record-breaking four members of the Irish high-performance team – Coyle, Lanigan-O’Keeffe, Sive Brassil and Eilidh Prise – had qualified for the final through strong performances in the regular season.
Despite some excellent performances and personal bests in the opening disciplines, three of the quartet met their downfall in the riding discipline and Prise ultimately achieved the highest finish in 29th.
It was left to Coyle and Lanigan-O’Keeffe, gold medallists in Sarasota (USA) in 2016 and Vilnius (Lithuania) in 2017, to salvage something from the weekend in the Mixed Relay – and they did so in style.
Up against two of the superstars of pentathlon, Elodie Clouvel and Valentin Prades of France, the Irish duo kept the leaders company throughout swimming, fencing and riding, earning the right to start the Laser Run in second place with a 15sec handicap.
Coyle was overtaken early on by Lithuania’s Gintare Venckauskaite, who created a duel with Olympic silver medallist Clouvel, but the Irish woman protected the bronze-medal position and handed over to Lanigan-O’Keeffe with Poland’s Olympic bronze medallist Oktawia Nowacka a good distance behind her.
Lanigan-O’Keeffe became embroiled in a battle for silver and bronze with Justinas Kinderis (LTU) and Daniel Lawrynowicz (POL), but a 7sec shoot at the final visit to the range gave him the breathing space to move clear of the Eastern European pair. On a breathless final lap he even began to bear down on world No.1 Prades, with Ireland eventually finishing just 2sec off gold.
Coyle, 28, said: “The competition was very tough. It’s quite humid out here as well, so it was a really tough finish. We didn’t have the individual competitions we would have liked after the Riding, so it’s really nice to cap it off with a silver medal.
“Our big competition this year is the European Championships, which is our main Olympic qualifier, so it’s brilliant to be coming home on that long-haul flight with a medal.”
Lanigan-O’Keeffe, 27, added: “My individual event was going really well until the Riding, which didn’t go my way, so there was a bit of determination and a bit of anger today.
“It went well and we won silver so I’m really happy. I took a lot of motivation from Joe Choong, who hunted down Marvin Dogue to win the gold medal yesterday, and I tried to do the same today with Prades. So thanks Joe!”
- Caption: Mixed Relay silver medallists Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe and Natalya Coyle at UIPM 2019 Pentathlon World Cup Final Tokyo
Brassil, 25, tweeted after finishing 31st in the women’s event: “Unfortunately I drew a horse who caused problems all weekend and ended up with one of my lowest ever riding scores, which dashed my chances of a good result.
“But I’m still proud of the work that I put in until the very end. Leaving Tokyo more motivated than ever. My day is coming!”
The trip to Tokyo was preceded by a training camp in Mungyong in South Korea which Martina McCarthy, Pentathlon Ireland Performance Director, described as “the perfect training environment”.
Martina reflected: “It was great for Natalya and Arthur to get a silver medal after a really controlled performance from both all day.
“It has been a very worthwhile trip. There have been some very valuable learning opportunities experienced by the athletes out here. It will give a clear focus of preparation over the next year.”
The immediate focus of preparations for the senior team will now be the European Championships in Bath in August, where there are 16 Tokyo 2020 qualification places at stake. This is followed by the UIPM Pentathlon and Laser Run World Championships in Budapest in September.
For more information please contact Jonathan Coates on +44 7788 352219.