Natalya Coyle qualified for the women’s final at the 2011 European Championships by finishing in 18th position in the semi final competitions today. Natalya will now contest the final on Sunday while teammate, Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe, will compete in the Me n’s final which will be held tomorrow. 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.
Natalya Coyle began in the pool with a pleasing performance. Her time of 2:18,42 was rewarded with 1140 pentathlon points and placed her in 14th position after the first event. Onto the fence, with just 24 athletes in the field, each victory was worth 40pentathlon points and therefore extremely valuable. Natalya struggled in a tough field and scored just 8 victories and 15defeats, giving her 680 pentathlon points. After two events, Natalya was placed in 21st position with only the top 18 athletes progressing to the final. Natalya began the combined event well, shooting 5 from 5 in her first shoot series in an impressive 13 seconds and saw her make up valuable time on opponents ahead of her in the field. Coming in for the second shoot, Natalya 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 solid final shoot of 23 seconds was enough to overtake a couple of athletes and saw her leave the range in 18th position. Natalya’s strong running saw her hold off a late charge from a Lithuanian athlete and take the final qualification position.
Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe produced the best result of his pentathlon career to qualify for the Men’s final at the Senior European Championships. The 20 year old athlete from Kilkenny finished 9th in semi final A today 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.
Arthur began his day in the fencing hall where he won 13 of his 30 bouts giving him a total of 776 pentathlon points and putting him in 22nd position after the first event. Meanwhile, Eanna began his day in the pool, smashing his personal best time, stopping the clock on 1:58,57. This was the third quickest time in semi final B and gave him 1380 pentathlon points.
The two Irish athletes swapped sporting arenas, Arthur to the pool and Eanna to the fencing hall. Not to be outdone by Eanna, Arthur also smashed his personal best time, posting a 1.58.80 which was the 4th quickest and gave him 1376 pentathlon points. This pushed him up to 13th position on the leader board after two events. Eanna scored 11 victories out of 30 bouts in the fencing for 720 pentathlon points, placing him in 22nd position after two events.
With the top 18 athletes to qualify for Saturday’s final the Irish athletes were well placed with the combined event to go. Arthur’s semi final was up first. Arthur was 228 points behind the leader of the competition which translated to a 57second handicap for the run/shoot event but had just a five second advantage over the athlete starting in 19th position. Arthur produced a solid shooting display and backed it up with strong running to qualify comfortably, crossing the finish line in 9th place.
Eanna started his semi final placed in 21st position and shot well on his first two visits to the range (24 and 20 seconds respectively), despite backing this up with good running, the athlete occupying 18th position remained 14seconds ahead of him on the course as Eanna came in for his last shoot series. Unfortunately, Eanna was left standing on the range for 40seconds as he struggled to clear the five targets. The gap to 18th position was too much to make up on the final 1km lap and Eanna crossed the finish line in 22nd position.
Arthur, who is the first Irish male pentathlete to qualify for a final at a major senior competition, will contest the Men’s final on Saturday where the top 8 athletes will gain automatic qualification for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
2011 European Championships:
Thursday 28th July – Men’s semi finals
Friday 29th July – Women’s semi finals
Saturday 30th July – Men’s Final
Sunday 21st July – Women’s Final
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