A stunning season-opening performance enabled Natalya Coyle to win her second UIPM Pentathlon World Cup silver medal in Cairo, Egypt today.
Uliana Batashova of Russia took gold in the women's individual final, while Sarolta Kovacs of Hungary claimed bronze.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic medal hopeful, 28, performed strongly in all events and picked off two of the biggest names in the sport during the Laser Run to claim a satisfying podium finish.
The silver medal built on Coyle’s breakthrough season of 2018, when she won silver at Pentathlon World Cup Sofia and finished just out of the medals in 4th in the World Cup Final in Astana.
Coyle and fellow World Cup medallist Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe are both recipients of podium funding from the Irish Sports Council having been identified as strong medal prospects for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
There is one place at the Games available for each gender at the World Cup Final in Tokyo in June, but there are greater qualifying opportunities at the World Championships in Budapest in September and the European Championships in Bath in August, as Coyle acknowledged.
The Modern Pentathlon World Cup is an annual series of competitions which will culminate in the World Cup final in Tokyo this June.
"It feels fantastic," said Coyle afterwards. "I’m absolutely delighted to come away with silver. It’s my second major individual medal so what a way to start the season.
"I thought it was a good day. I was a second slower in the pool, but my fencing was good and I rode a clear round. I think everybody had a bit of a nightmare on the shooting range so I was absolutely delighted to come away with second.
"I’m really over the moon with it. It’s great to see that a good winter training has paid off and my major focus is the European Championships [in England in August], where I’m aiming to get a qualifying position for Tokyo. That’s the big aim for this year."
Coyle was 15th fastest in the pool after a 200m swim of 2 minutes 19.58 seconds, but it was in the fencing arena that she catapulted herself into medal contention. A return of 23 victories and 12 defeats gave her 238 points – the fourth-best performance on the piste.
Coyle went on to be one of 11 riders to enjoy a clean ride, and the resulting 300 points moved her into 3rd place overall.
A solid Laser Run time of 12:42.20 saw her hang on the shoulder of gold medallist Uliana Batashova of Russia, eventually finishing 11 seconds behind the champion but comfortably ahead of former world champion Sarolta Kovacs of Hungary (bronze), Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Elodie Clouvel of France (4th) and 2018 world champion Anastasiya Prokopenko of Belarus (5th). Great Britain’s Francesca Summers was 6th.
Fellow Irish athlete Sive Brassil narrowly missed out on qualifying for today’s women’s individual final, having finished 37th in the semi-final on Wednesday.