Congratulations once again to Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe – the new European Modern Pentathlon Champion in what was an historic day for Irish Sport in Bath. Arthur became the first ever Irish pentathlete to win gold and sealed his place in the 2016 Olympic Games in the process.
Arthur put in an outstanding performance in all disciplines, his swim of 2:02.49 put him in 7th place heading into the fencing round where he produced a truly world-class display taking 23 victories and only 12 defeats to place 2ndafter the round robin fencing event. The fencing bonus round saw him take 2 further points and a 2nd place overall going into the ride.
With his horse “Davis” he had a clear ride with just 5 points deducted for time-delay. As the athletes meet their horse only 20 minutes before the ride, he was delighted with his allocation. “I was really lucky with the horse I got, he was really sweet.”
He started the combined run/shoot event with a 20 second lead over Great Britain’s James Cooke, and maintained a significant lead throughout. Although it was his first time leading a senior championship, he kept his cool to cross the finish line with a 16 second lead over France’s Valentin Prades, and Italy’s Riccardo de Luca.
“It basically means the world to me, our whole season has been focused on peaking at this one moment and we peaked at it so it gives me great confidence going into Rio. I’ve now qualified for the Olympics, I’m the European Championship, it’s pretty much up there with the top days of my life. I am so delighted, it’s amazing” says Arthur on his victory.
High Performance Director Andy Mackenzie was also ecstatic about the Irish win “It shows the work that Arthur’s been doing over the years. He’s allowed this to happen, he’s had this in him for ages but he’s come of age today which is great. For the High Performance programme, again it justifies everything we are doing and hopefully it will help our funding too”
In the women’s event Natalya Coyle came close to Rio qualification by finishing 11th ( with the top 8 qualifying) , Coyle said “So close to automatically qualifying but over the moon anyway!!
It’s a welcome return to form after some time out this year, and Rio qualification will is still achievable.