Sive Brassil has travelled to Cairo for the showpiece event of the UIPM season knowing it will be her last chance to secure qualification for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The 27-year-old will be the sole Irish representative in the UIPM 2021 Pentathlon and Laser Run World Championships after Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe was ruled out through injury and Natalya Coyle opted not to go after a change in travel advice relating to Egypt.
Brassil is currently 35th in the women’s UIPM Olympic world ranking list and may need a career-best result to move up enough places to secure an Olympic berth via the rankings. Winning a medal would result in automatic qualification.
The Galway athlete has competed six times at the Pentathlon World Championships with a best finish of 28th in Budapest in 2019 – an improvement consistent with her results across the board. In the last three Pentathlon World Cups where she was able to finish, she was 16th, 18th and 27th, and 25th in last month’s Pentathlon World Cup Final.
Brassil said: “The World Championships is always the pinnacle of the pentathlon season so I’m very excited to compete.
“I am feeling very fit and ready so I’m looking forward to putting in a strong performance. The main focus for me right now is putting in a good performance at the World Championships. If all goes well, then I can focus on the Olympics in August. All of the training and competing all year has been helping me prepare for Tokyo.
“My goal for Cairo is to have a strong performance and consolidate all the hard work I’ve put in this season. It’s a great opportunity for me and I’m really looking forward to giving it my all.”
Brassil and coaches Martina McCarthy and Andrei Fedotov will be the only members of the Irish delegation in Cairo after a change in Irish Government travel advice relating to Egypt. The country will tomorrow be added to the red list for Irish travellers, meaning even athletes who are allowed to travel via performance exemptions will have to quarantine for 10 days – five in a hotel and five at home – on return.
Brassil added: “It has been strange competing in Europe during the pandemic, with all the extra travel protocols and COVID testing. It took some getting used to but I think it’s just great to be able to compete and I’m happy that all of the competitions got to go ahead. It will feel a bit more reassuring now that I have my first COVID vaccine.”
Coyle, who has already qualified for Tokyo, will now focus fully on training with less than nine weeks to go until the Olympic Modern Pentathlon is scheduled to take place in the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza and Tokyo Stadium. But she will not have her fiancé for company in Japan.
Lanigan-O’Keeffe, a two-time Olympian like Coyle, can no longer qualify for Tokyo 2020 after he was ruled out of the World Championships by the hip injury that has plagued his season.
The 29-year-old Kilkenny athlete said: “I won’t be going to my third Olympics in Tokyo and I’m really sad about that, especially after working so hard and coming through all the disruption of the past two seasons. My main focus now is on getting the treatment I need for my hip so that I can be back in action in the next six to 12 months.”
The UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Championships runs from 8-14 June with Brassil in action in the women’s qualification on Thursday, 10 June and aiming to return for the women’s final on Saturday, 12 June.