Ireland’s three-time Olympian Natalya Coyle ready for Tokyo


Modern pentathlon athlete for the Irish team, Natalya Coyle, is ready to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

So much so that Meath’s 30-something is heading into her third modern Olympic pentathlon with an unwavering determination to, in her own words, ‘get the job done’.

There are plenty of reasons Coyle is taking a dogged approach to the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games, where she will compete over the next two days.

There’s the adversity imposed on her by COVID-19 and the 12-month postponement of the Games – which ultimately contributed to her fiance Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe missing a third Olympics due to injury .

There’s the confidence she has in her own levels of performance, complemented by a 5th place finish in the 2021 UIPM Pentathlon World Cup Final and what is described as a very successful pre-camp for the team. ‘Ireland in Fukuroi.

There is also Coyle’s recognition that these are an Olympics like no other, missing the allure she encountered in London and Rio of the carnival atmosphere and friends and family in the crowds that came her. yell at it.

On the eve of the start of the women’s competition, Coyle, who finished 9th in 2012 and 6th in 2016, said: “I think my relationship with the Olympics has definitely changed. It was great for me to see the passion of other teams – like when the hockey girls qualified. It really reminds you of that original love for her.

“For me now I think it’s really exciting and a great honor but I also see it in a more pragmatic way – there is work to be done. And especially in this age of Covid, it’s kinda weird – there’s a job to be done and Covid got rid of all the razzmatazz from the Olympics anyway.

“I think this time around, for me, I feel like there’s a job I can do and that’s the way I see it.

“I still love it and I’m really excited to watch it all, but I have now been to my third Games and when I look back on my first ones I just wanted to qualify and I was so excited. This time, before I even qualified, I was like “oh, I’m going to qualify, there’s a different job to do… it’s just a different kind of feeling. “

Coyle tends to have a balanced view of the five disciplines – swimming, fencing, horseback riding, running and laser shooting – although his interest in fencing at camp indicates the importance of scoring on the track, where medals can be won and lost.

She had five fencing training partners in Fukuroi, including Irish pentathletes Tom O’Brien and Isobel Radford Dodd.

Coyle believes his fencing has improved from his training.

“I have a very good fencing coach, Andrei Fedotov, and he gives me a lot of confidence.

“Before London and Rio where I had very, very good Olympic performances, I really hadn’t had the same level of performance in other events throughout the year.

“They were great showcases and I’m delighted with how they turned out, but they were a bit isolated. This time, coming to these Games, I have a streak of medals and then in my last competition, I came fifth in the World Cup final.

“I’ve become more and more consistent and better over the years, so I really think I can get better with every Games. I’ve won several medals now, so I’m not as nervous as I used to be.

Although firmly focused on peak performance halfway around the world, Coyle still kept an eye on the future of Irish pentathlon during a preparation camp which she said was as good as anyone she had ever seen. assisted.

Coyle said the logistics involved in preparing for Tokyo 2020 are out of this world and Team Ireland really went above and beyond to help every athlete.

She added that she was able to come as prepared as possible to the camp and then to the village afterwards.

“I had my fencing coach with me which was great, and Martina McCarthy is our performance director, so I was really surrounded by training partners.

“It was nice to see other athletes from Team Ireland as well, even though you walked around in masks trying to guess who’s who!

“The other two pentathletes in the camp were Tom O’Brien and Isabelle Radford-Dodd, who is a young junior athlete and it was important for her to see a Games like this, it will inspire her for the future.

“I think it’s a tough sport to play. The amount of training you need to do is huge – it’s three or four sessions a day and it’s tough.

“I hope that the pentathlon can continue to strengthen in Ireland as it would be nice to see after all the work we have put in. Unfortunately I don’t have my crystal ball but we have some good young athletes to come. and hopefully, it can just keep improving.

To see a list of all Team Ireland athletes competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, click here.

Calendar of competitions

Thursday August 5

Final Women

5 am-8.30am: Fencing classification round

Friday August 6

Final Women

6:30 am: Swimming

7.45 a.m .: Fencing Bonus Round

9:15 am: Horse riding


Naomi C. Amerson