A silver medal for Natalya Coyle and Arthur Lanigan-O'Keeffe enabled Ireland to sign off from the UIPM 2019 Pentathlon World Cup Final in Tokyo in style.
A record-breaking four members of the Irish high-performance team – Coyle, Lanigan-O'Keeffe, Sive Brassil and Eilidh Prise – had qualified for the final through strong performances in the regular season.
Despite some excellent performances and personal bests in the opening disciplines, three of the quartet met their downfall in the riding discipline and Prise ultimately achieved the highest finish in 29th.
It was left to Coyle and Lanigan-O’Keeffe, gold medallists in Sarasota (USA) in 2016 and Vilnius (Lithuania) in 2017, to salvage something from the weekend in the Mixed Relay – and they did so in style.
Up against two of the superstars of pentathlon, Elodie Clouvel and Valentin Prades of France, the Irish duo kept the leaders company throughout swimming, fencing and riding, earning the right to start the Laser Run in second place with a 15sec handicap.
Coyle was overtaken early on by Lithuania’s Gintare Venckauskaite, who created a duel with Olympic silver medallist Clouvel, but the Irish woman protected the bronze-medal position and handed over to Lanigan-O’Keeffe with Poland’s Olympic bronze medallist Oktawia Nowacka a good distance behind her.
Lanigan-O’Keeffe became embroiled in a battle for silver and bronze with Justinas Kinderis (LTU) and Daniel Lawrynowicz (POL), but a 7sec shoot at the final visit to the range gave him the breathing space to move clear of the Eastern European pair. On a breathless final lap he even began to bear down on world No.1 Prades, with Ireland eventually finishing just 2sec off gold.
Coyle, 28, said: "The competition was very tough. It’s quite humid out here as well, so it was a really tough finish. We didn’t have the individual competitions we would have liked after the Riding, so it’s really nice to cap it off with a silver medal.
"Our big competition this year is the European Championships, which is our main Olympic qualifier, so it’s brilliant to be coming home on that long-haul flight with a medal."