Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe, the 20 years old Kilkenny student finished in a highly commendable 25th position as the UIPM World Cup Series #1 drew to a close in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday.
Lanigan-O’Keefe in qualifying for the final became the first Irish male ever to have reached a World Cup final – this was by any standards a fine achievement for a Junior athlete competing against the cream of the world’s pentathletes.
A very happy Kilkenny man later told his Twitter followers : “25th in my first world cup final happy with it and no.1 Junior in the comp also so BOOM”.
To have two team members, Natalya Coyle being the other, reach a World Cup final is a great boost for the sport in Ireland. Swords Eanna Bailey too (though he did not reach the final) can be proud of his performance in such exalted company.
The UIPM World Cup Series now heads down to Rio de Janeiro for World Cup #2 starting on 15 March 2012, where a record number of athletes are expected. Clearly the decision of Pentathlon Ireland to employ the services of respected Polish coach Marek Makay
is already beginning to pay dividends. Makay had been Head Coach for Egypt for the previous 16 years.
How does he see the immediate future of of the sport in this country?:
“The immediate plans are already in place and have been for the past few months. We are working hard to accomplish all that we’ve planned. I hope that we will succeed. The key to this will be keeping the athletes in good health and injury free – this is what I’ve learned over 40 years working with the Polish and Egyptian athletes.
I believe that someone will qualify for the Olympic Games in 2012, and that maybe in four years we will be competitive in the fight for medals. This task is very difficult, but feasible, the athletes must believe that anything is possible”.
Meanwhile in Charlotte,Ilia Frolov (RUS) shot his way to the gold medal, as many experts had forecast. This report from UIPM:
“The 2008 World Champion shot flawlessly and never looked like letting the gold medal leave his grasp during the combined event. Pavlo Tymoschenko (UKR) ran his way into the silver medal and World #1 Aleksander Lesun (RUS) hung on for a well deserved bronze.
Frolov started the day in vintage form, finishing 3rd in the fencing behind Belarusian Mihail Propkopenko. The Russian followed up this respectable result with a 17th place in the swim, but it was his near flawless ride worth 1180 points which put him in a commanding position ahead of the combined event. The World #9 then didn’t miss a shot to easily win his first World Cup event since 2010 World Cup #5.
After his confidence boosting victory, Frolov stated: “In the preseason I worked a lot on my shooting more than the other 4 disciplines as it let me down last year, so I am very happy to shoot so well. This victory was very satisfying for me as it gives me an edge in the fight for the 2 Olympic places within the Russian team for London.
Tymoschenko, who came very close to defending his World Cup #1 title that he won last year said: “I shot very well today, I tried to shoot more precise than quick, which worked well. I am glad to start the year in good form, but I want to keep this up for the entire season, as I dropped off last year.” The Ukrainian who has not yet qualified for the Olympics was confident of heading to London: “These points today means I have two good competitions, so I think I will be there in Greenwich Park”.
Lesun continued his gold medal drought, but was content with his bronze medal: “I did not fence very well today, so I was continually playing catch up. When I rode a perfect round, I knew I would be in a chance of moving up in the combined event. I was very shocked of how well I shot which is a very good sign for the rest of the season. Bronze is great for me!”
UIPM President Dr h.c. Klaus Schormann stated after Charlotte hosted a World Cup for the first time: “UIPM is pleased of how the whole event went. The technical side was flawless, and there was equal competition for all athletes.
It is a big positive for UIPM to have another top venue and organising committee in the USA to host World Cup’s with this country having over 100 years of history in Modern Pentathlon. The facilities were ideal, the people were superb, this was a great experience by all involved.”