Natalya Coyle’s focus on fencing prior to the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games appears to have paid off with interest.
The three-time Irish Olympian had one of her best-ever days on the piste on the opening event of the Modern Pentathlon competition, ending the day in a tie for third.
The 30-year-old from Meath started and finished strongly in the round robin, winning 23 of her 35 bouts to finish alongside Uliana Batashova (ROC) and just six points second-placed Sehee Kim of Korea. She defeated both British rivals, Joanna Muir and one of the gold-medal favourites, Kate French.
Annika Schleu of Germany dominated the round with 29 victories and just six defeats, which is set to be confirmed as an Olympic record after the fencing bonus round tomorrow.
Coyle spent the past several weeks in a Team Ireland training camp in Fukuroi where there was a heavy focus on fencing, with five sparring partners in attendance.
The Team Ireland star said: “I am absolutely delighted. I am pretty buzzed. There is a lot of adrenaline going through me at the current moment.
“I have been waiting a while to go. This morning I woke up pretty calm and I felt really ready, and I had a lot of energy. I expended a lot of it right there but I have time to recover.
“Tomorrow is a busy one but it is less busy because we just finished fencing and we are used to going all day long.”
Asked about the unpredictable riding event, which is the main barrier for Coyle to overcome to secure a strong starting position in the Laser Run finale, she said: “Just don’t think about it, don’t dwell on it. Just get up and do what you can do.”
The women’s final continues tomorrow (August 6) with swimming, followed by riding and finally Laser Run – where Coyle hopes to improve on her top-10 places from London 2012 (9th) and Rio (6th).
Competition schedule (Irish times)
Friday, August 6
7.45am: Fencing Bonus Round
11.30am: Laser Run