Our Rio 2016 Olympic Council of Ireland Scholarship athlete Natalya Coyle gives us her first blog on the #roadtorio.
Hi, my name is Natalya Coyle and I am an Olympic solidarity athlete in the sport of Modern Pentathlon.
For my first blog I thought I’d start with the basics! Modern Pentathlon consists of 5 sports, all contested on the same day: Fencing, swimming, fencing, horse-riding, shooting & running. It is one of the oldest sports in the Olympic Games and I am lucky to have competed in the 2012 London Olympics, where I placed 9th. At the moment, I’m writing this from my hotel room in Belarus.
I am here to compete in the World Cup Finals and will partake in the mixed relay and in the women’s individual competition. The World Cup Final consists of the top ranked 36 athletes from four World Cup competitions throughout the year. The mixed relay is a competition within which a team consisting of a female and male partnerships compete, each covering half the course. My partner is the excellent Arthur Lanigan O’Keeffe who also competed in the London Olympics.
I’m really looking forward to this week’s competition as I get to compete against the world’s best, on a global stage, and will also be great preparation for the rest of the summer. I am also excited to compete in the mixed relay, as it is an event within which we won two world medals earlier this year!
This competition marks the start of a really busy summer for me, which will include both the World and European Championships. After Belarus, I travel to Poland for 2 weeks training as further preparation before arriving in Berlin for the World Championship. So while many my age backpack around the World this summer, I too will be living out of a suitcase, for a while at least! Believe me, when allowed just 25kg, packing for competing in 5 sports and a training camp is interesting
For many of you who are new to Modern Pentathlon (Soon to be your favourite sport…J) I thought I would explain what actually goes on in a competition day. In a straight final, like this week’s competition, I start off with fencing. I will fence every other athlete to 1 hit (time allowed is 1 minute); the whole event can take up to 3 hours. I wear a special fencing suit to protect us and it gets pretty hot in there! After that I head over to the swimming pool where I will race 200meters as fast as I can. Once that is over the horse riding is next.
Here the current leader will randomly draw a horse and athletes are then allocated theirs. You are given 20 minutes and 5 jumps to get to know your new friend, whom you’re hoping will carry you clearly across a course of 1.20m fences. Exhausted yet? Finally, it is onto the last event, the combined run/shoot.
For this event we have a staggered start, with a head-start for the leader and individually specific handicap for each in pursuit, based on the points we have accumulated during the day. Here I will run an 800m four times and in-between each 800m I must shoot a target 10m away 5times before I can continue. The first person to cross the line wins! Simple!
I think that’s enough for now! I’m heading down to have a swim and check out the competition venue!
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