The Irish modern pentathlon trio of Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe, Eanna Bailey and Natalya Coyle are in the USA this weekend to compete in the first World Cup event of 2012.
As the first of six qualifications between now and the end of May, athletes will be looking to perform well to keep their Olympic ambitions on track.
Seventy four women and 97 men will contest the first modern pentathlon World Cup competition of 2012. With only 36 athletes in each gender contesting the final, qualification at Charlotte in North Carolina will be extremely tough.
The competition kicks off with the women’s qualification competition today, and with the top 12 progressing from each of the three groups, athletes will need to ensure they perform well in the fencing, swimming, riding and combined run/shoot event to ensure a place in Saturday's final.
Coyle will be on the start line for the Irish team and will be confident of making it through the qualification rounds after her impressive performance at the recent Hungarian Indoor competition where she placed eighth.
The men’s qualification competition commences tomorrow, with the final on Sunday. Bailey and Lanigan-O’Keeffe will be looking to qualify for their first final at World Cup level after both just missing out in 2011.
The Irish duo will take heart from 2011 performances where they fell just shy of the qualification mark; Lanigan-O’Keeffe finishing 14th at the USA World Cup last year, with Bailey also missing out by just two places when he finished 14th at the Italian World cup in 2011.
With a further 12 months of training and competition experience gained, both athletes will believe they are capable of making the cut.
All three athletes hopes of good performances will be boosted by the addition of Marek Makay to the Pentathlon Ireland coaching team.
Modern Pentathlon is made up of five disciplines - fencing, swimming, riding, and the combined event of running and shooting.