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Irish modern pentathletes into European finals

Updated: Saturday, 30 Jul 2011 13:07

Natalya Coyle - qualified for Sunday's final of the European Championship
Natalya Coyle - qualified for Sunday's final of the European Championship

Natalya Coyle qualified for the women’s final at the 2011 European Championships by finishing in 18th position in Saturday’s semi-final.

Coyle will now contest Sunday’s final, while teammate Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe will compete in the men’s final, which will be held on Saturday.

The top eight athletes from the men’s and women’s competition will gain automatic qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

This is the first time Ireland will have athletes competing in the finals at the European Championships and is a huge achievement for Pentathlon Ireland and the individual athletes.

Coyle began with a pleasing performance in the pool. Her time of 2:18.42 was rewarded with 1140 pentathlon points and placed her in 14th position after the first event.

In the fencing, with just 24 athletes in the field, each victory was worth 40 points.

Coyle struggled in a tough field and scored just eight victories and 15 defeats, giving her 680 points. After two events, she was placed in 21st position – three places outside the qualifying spots for the final.

But she began the combined event well, shooting five from five in her first shoot series in an impressive 13 seconds. Coming in for the second shoot, she again held her nerve, missing just one shot and completing the series in 16 seconds.

A solid second run lap saw her enter the range for the final shoot in 19th place. A final shoot of 23 seconds was enough to overtake a couple of athletes and saw her leave the range in 18th position.

Her strong running then saw her hold off a late charge from a Lithuanian athlete and claim the final qualification position.

Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe produced the best result of his pentathlon career to qualify for the men’s final. The 20-year-old athlete from Kilkenny finished ninth in Semi-final A, with the top 18 making the cut to the final.

Team mate Eanna Bailey was unfortunate to miss out on qualification, finishing in 22nd in Semi-final B.

Lanigan-O’Keeffe began his day in the fencing hall where he won 13 of his 30 bouts, giving him a total of 776 points and putting him in 22nd position after the first event.

Lanigan-O’Keeffe then smashed his personal best time in the pool, posting 1.58.80, which was the fourth quickest and gave him 1376 points. This pushed him up to 13th position on the leader board after two events.

At that stage he was 228 points behind the competition leader, which translated to a 57-second handicap for the run/shoot event, but he had just a five-second advantage over the athlete in 19th position.

However, Lanigan-O’Keeffe produced a solid shooting display and backed it up with strong running to qualify comfortably, crossing the finish line in ninth place.

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