Natalya Coyle and Sive Brassil kept their preparations for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on track with strong performances in one of the showpiece events of the season.
Two-time Olympian Coyle, who has already qualified for Tokyo, performed strongly all day to finish fifth while Brassil worked hard for a placing of 25th that keeps her in contention for a qualifying spot.
Securing a place on the extended podium was a strong affirmation of Coyle’s form after the turbulence of the past 15 months.
It was her highest individual placing in a global competition since she won World Cup silver in Cairo in March 2019, and close to her best-ever finish in the World Cup Final (fourth in Astana in 2018).
Meath pentathlete Coyle, 30, said afterwards: “I’m absolutely delighted with a fifth place in the World Cup Final. It’s a competition that replicates the Olympics so I’m delighted I’m coming into form.
“I’m really happy with how the whole day went. I had a solid fence and swim, my horse was great and my Laser Run was great.
“It’s been a long year with COVID so I can’t explain how happy I am to be mixing it with the best in the world again.”
For Brassil, the road to Tokyo has never been anything other than an uphill climb but she continues to accumulate ranking points to keep herself in with a chance.
Today’s result should improve her place in the UIPM Olympic World Ranking List (she is currently 30th) with the Pentathlon World Championships still to come in Cairo in June.
The Galway athlete, 27, said: “It was a tough competition with a not-great result in the fencing and shooting, but I was happy with a clear round in the riding and my physical events were strong.”
With a competition structure mirroring the Tokyo 2020 format, the 36 competing athletes were all there on merit and the Irish women came into today’s climax with points on the board from yesterday’s fencing ranking round. Coyle had a share of eighth place with Brassil in a share of 27th.
Coyle was the faster of the Irish duo in swimming, with her time of 2min 17.06sec slightly quicker than Brassil’s 2:18.16 – both times fell within the top 15.
Coyle added two points to her overall fencing score in the bonus round, and both athletes showed their composure on horseback with neither dislodging a single obstacle.
Brassil was one of eight competitors to achieve a perfect score of 300, while Coyle incurred just four penalty points for a score of 296 to give herself a starting position of seventh in the Laser Run.
With an inexperienced athlete in the lead (Amira Kandil of Egypt), there was little to separate the rest of the top 10 at the start of the four-lap run/shoot.
While Kate French of Great Britain completed a season of dominance by winning gold ahead of Germany’s Annika Schleu and Hungary’s Michelle Gulyas, Coyle gritted her teeth to stay close to the medal positions, finally finishing just three seconds behind Gulyas.
Her Laser Run time of 12:06.76 was the 13th-fastest of the day, while Brassil ranked 24th in Laser Run to finish 25th overall.
Ireland’s interest in the competition continues tomorrow with Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe competing in the remainder of the men’s final – he is currently in 21st place after the fencing ranking round.