Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe, Eanna Bailey and Natalya Coyle are in the USA city of Charlotte, to compete in the first World Cup event of 2012.
As the first of six qualifications between now and the end of May, athletes will be looking to perform well to keep their Olympic ambitions on track.
Seventy four women and 97 men will contest the first modern pentathlon World Cup competition of 2012. With only 36 athletes in each gender contesting the final, qualification in Charlotte will be extremely tough.
The competition kicks off with the women’s qualification competition today (Thursday 8th), and with the top 12 progressing from each of the three groups, athletes will need to ensure they perform well in the fencing, swimming and combined run/shoot event to ensure a place in the final on Saturday 10th. Coyle will be on the start line for the Irish team and will be quietly confident of making it through the qualification rounds after her impressive performance at the recent Hungarian Indoor competition where she placed 8th.
The event will be streamed LIVE via: http://www.pentathlon.org/
The 2012 World Cup Series will host four competitions – in the USA, Brazil, Hungary and Russia where valuable ranking points can be earned. After these four events, the top 36 ranked athletes will be invited to attend the 2012 World Cup Final in China at the end of May where higher value ranking points are available.
The 2012 World Championships are in Rome, Italy at the beginning of May. The top 3 placed athletes will gain automatic qualification for the Olympic Games. In addition, athletes placing highly at the World Championships will be rewarded with high level ranking points.
The Olympic Qualification System:
For London 2012 Olympic Games 36 Men and 36 women will be on the start line to contest the gold medal. A handful of athletes have gained qualification at specific events in 2011 and three more will do so at the 2012 World Championships in May.
The remaining places will be allocated to athletes at the end of the qualification period (May 31st 2012) according to the Olympic ranking list with only two athletes per nation allowed to compete. With only your best three results to count from a 12month period, the Irish athletes will be looking of the best performances of their careers to ensure Olympic qualification. All athletes qualified for the Olympic Games will be confirmed by 1st June.
Natalya Coyle (21) from Co. Meath leads the Irish charge. With excellent performances at the 2011 World Cup Final (which also doubled at the Olympic test event) where she finished 20th and at the 2012 World Championships in Moscow where she finished 30th, Coyle has already bagged a valuable number of ranking points. Currently ranked in 23rd position Coyle has a good opportunity to make the grade. When you consider that only two athletes per nation can compete and with three athletes from Britain, Hungary and Germany all currently ranked higher than Coyle this significantly improves her potential.
Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe (20) from Kilkenny had a breakthrough performance at Senior level in the 2011 European Championships where he finished in 20th position. Currently ranked 35th on the Olympic ranking, Lanigan-O’Keeffe will need to repeat this level of performance on more than one occasion to make the grade. A tough ask for the Irish athlete but one that’s within the capabilities of the talented youngster.
Eanna Bailey (21) from Co. Dublin is the third Irish athlete pushing for Olympic qualification. Bailey, who has somewhat been over shadowed by the performances of his team mates to date, came close to qualifying for finals at events in 2011, finishing 15th in the qualifying rounds at the 2011 World Championships in Moscow (with the top 12 to progress). Currently ranked 68th on the Olympic ranking, you can’t rule him out but he will need to be on top form from the off to stand a chance of qualification.
All three athletes are part of the Pentathlon Ireland High Performance Programme that is funded and supported by the Irish Sports Council and the Irish Institute of Sport.
Key 2012 Dates:
8th – 11th March – World Cup 1. Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
15th – 18th March – World Cup 2. Rio De Janerio, BRAZIL
12th – 15th April – World Cup 3. Budapest, HUNGARY
19th – 22nd April – World Cup 4. Rostov, RUSSIA
7th – 13th May – World Championships. Rome, ITALY
26th-27th May – World Cup Final. Chegdu, CHINA
31st May – End of Olympic Qualification period
1st June – Confirmation of athlete qualified for London 2012 Olympic Games
5th June – Pentathlon Ireland Media Day for qualified athletes – TBC
4th – 10th July – European Championships, Sofia, BULGARIA
11th August – Olympic Games Modern Pentathlon Men’s event
12th August – Olympic Games Modern Pentathlon Women’s event