Natalya Coyle finished 25th in World Cup 4 in China today. The young Irish athlete later found out this was enough to qualify her for the World Cup Final to be held in London in July. The top 36 ranked athletes after the four World Cup competitions are invited to compete in this event that will double as an Olympic Qualification competition and the test event for the London 2012 Olympics.
Natalya’s day started positively in the fencing hall where she won 7 hits and lost 6 in her first 12 fights. Her 50/50 form continued for the majority of the fencing event with Natalya producing some excellent hits against some quality fencing opponents. Unfortunately the good run came to an end when Natalya was greeted with a series of eight fights in a row against the Chinese athletes. Despite tactically fencing well, she was only able to land a hit on one of the eight athletes and to add to the frustration, two of her fights timed out after the allocated minute was exceeded leading to a defeat for both athletes. Her total of 14victories and 21 defeats is respectable at this level of competition but both Natalya and her coach we left frustrated at what could have been. Natalya’s victories converted to 736 pentathlon points saw her down in 27th position out of the 36 athletes.
Onto the swimming; Natalya’s weakest event, where she was seeded in the second of five heats. A spirited performance saw her go nearly a second and a half faster than she had in the qualification competition, placing ahead of some of the faster athletes in her heat. Finishing in 3rd place in 2.23.26 gave her 1084 pentathlon points and was the 25th fastest time in the whole competition. As predicted, this dropped Natalya a few places to 29th but with the points difference only small up to the top 10.
In pentathlon, the riding event can make a big difference to the leader board and an athlete’s whole competition can be won and lost in this event. Athletes draw horses at random and are given just 20minutes and five practise jumps to ‘get to know their horse’. This is a great test of riding skills and those lacking are often found out. Natalya, who found the sport of pentathlon through the Irish Pony Club, has always been a keen rider and often enjoys the challenge that the riding format in pentathlon presents. Today, however she had a little bit more to deal with than usual. The wonderfully name horse, “A120” obviously didn’t like being around other horses which causes a few problems in the warm up arena when there are up to six other riders acquainting themselves (not all successfully) with their allocated horses. Despite enduring what could be described as a 20minute session on a bucking bronco ride, horse “A120” was a super jumper and rode a lovely round. Natalya was first to admit that the one rail she had down was rider error for getting in to close but she was very happy to have a near perfect score of 1180 (out of a maximum of 1200). Athlete’s enter the riding arena in reverse ranking with the lowest ranked athletes in first and the leader of the competition being the last to ride. A fair few of the lower ranked athletes, didn’t manage to acquaint themselves particularly successfully with their horses and several poor rounds and the conclusion of the ride event saw Natalya move up the leader board to 22nd position.
The final combined run/shoot event see the athletes see off in a staggered start according to their points that they have accumulated from the first three events. The leader of the competition, Sarolta Kovacs (HUN) had an enormous lead of over 40 seconds to the second placed athlete. Further down the field, Natalya started the event 1minute 49 seconds behind the competition leader but with only one minute separating 4th – 22nd there was a lot to at stake.
Natalya began in perfect form, hitting 5 from 5 in 14seconds on the first shoot series. She backed this up with a good first kilometre run and was back on the shooting range in 20th position. Unfortunately the perfection went out the window with a disastrous second shoot series, taking 42 seconds to clear the 5 targets. Natalya put in a huge effort on the second lap to catch up ground on the athletes in front and came onto the range for the third shoot still with a chance of making a top 20 position. Natalya seemed to re-gain some composure on the range with a mediocre third shoot of 33seconds but with others around her shooting faster she wasn’t able to capitalise on her opportunity. Natalya ran her heart out on the last lap and overtook a few athletes to make up a few places to 25th position. Those few places turned out to be extremely valuable as the top 36 athletes in the World Cup standings were separated by the smallest of margins.
For the World Cup Final, only three athletes per nation are eligible to compete. Natalya’s 25th position earned her 23 points to the World Cup Standings and saw her move up to 41st position after the four World Cup competitions. With five ineligible athletes ahead of her in the standings from strong nations such as Great Britain, Germany, Poland and Italy, Natalya was able to claim the 36th and final qualification place. This is a fantastic boost to Natalya’s chance of qualifying for London 2012 as this will be the first competition within the 12month qualification period that starts on 1st June 2011.
The 2011 World Cup Series:
· World Cup 1 – USA, 23rd – 27th February
· World Cup 2 – Italy, 14th – 17th March
· World Cup 3 – Hungary, 5th – 8th May
· World Cup 4 – China, 26th – 29th May
· World Cup Final – Great Britain, 9th – 10th July (Olympic Qualification Event*)
The top 36 ranked athletes from WC 1-4 will be invited to contest the World Cup Final
Further information on the Pentathlon and the World cup series:
· Union International de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) – www.pentathlon.org
· www.facebook.com – Search pages for “Pentathlon Ireland”
· Pentathlon Ireland – www.pentathlon.ie
*Olympic Qualification (1st June 2011 – 31st May 2012)
There are two main ways Irish athletes will look to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games:
1. Through an official Olympic qualification competition
§ 2011 World Cup Final – Winner of this gains Olympic qualification
§ 2011 World Championships – Three best ranked athletes gain Olympic Qualification
§ 2011 European Championships – Eight best ranked athletes gain Olympic Qualification
§ 2012 World Championships – Three best ranked athletes gain Olympic Qualification
2. Through the Pentathlon World Ranking (PWR)
§ Places will be allocated to top ranked athletes on the PWR who have not previously qualified an Olympic Qualification spot. Athlete’s three best performances from 1st June 2011 – 31st May 2012 will be used for the PWR.
§ Only two athletes per nation (per gender) can compete at the Olympic Games so where nations qualify more than two athletes, extra places will be awarded to the PWR qualification system.
§ Athletes will gain ranking points based on their final positions in competitions; different competitions are worth different
· Level 1 – World Cup final and World Championships are worth the most ranking points. 1st = 80points
· Level 2 – World Cups and other major championships. 1st = 60points
· Level 3 – Other international competitions. 1st = 40points.