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Ireland’s Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe stepped up his bid to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with a respectable result in his first elite final in 13 months.
The Kilkenny pentathlete finished 22nd at UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Cup Sofia (I) to get back on track after a tough start to the Olympic season. So tight was the race that Lanigan-O’Keeffe finished only 53sec behind the winner, Korea’s Woongtae Jun, with his score of 1,404.
Though not quite reaching the heights of the bronze medal he won in Cairo in 2020 just before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, the result was a big improvement on the 2021 season-opener in Budapest where he failed to reach the final.
The 29-year-old will have another opportunity next week, in the second half of a double-header in Sofia, to improve his standing in the UIPM Olympic World Rankings and push for a place at the Pentathlon World Cup Final in May.
After a solid swim – 2:04.04, the sixth-fastest time of the day – Lanigan-O’Keeffe struggled to find his rhythm in fencing. With only 14 victories from his 35 bouts, the two-time Olympian was ranked 32nd but showed his character to add three points in the bonus round and edge up the overall standings.
A typically composed performance in riding enabled Lanigan-O’Keeffe to make greater inroads on the leaderboard, and after dislodging just one obstacle for a score of 293 he earned a starting place of 21st in Laser Run.
In the final event, a time of 11:18.40 enabled Lanigan-O’Keeffe to just about maintain his position and he crossed the line in 22nd.
Irish team-mate Sive Brassil finished 27th in the women’s final on Friday, and the pair will be reunited with Natalya Coyle for Pentathlon World Cup Sofia (II) next week.