Sunday 2 October 2016

Lanigan-O'Keeffe salutes his top-ten hit

Modern pentathlon

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Published 22/08/2016 | 02:30

Although he made a superb effort in the show-jumping and the combined run/shooting events, the European champion had to be content with eighth place overall. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.
Although he made a superb effort in the show-jumping and the combined run/shooting events, the European champion had to be content with eighth place overall. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.

As befits a Cat, Thomastown native Arthur Lanigan-O'Keefe's shooting skills propelled him into a top-ten finish in the Modern Pentathlon and within touching distance of a bronze medal in Rio.

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Indeed, but for a below-par performance in the fencing element of the event, which was conceived by the founder of the modern Olympics Pierre de Coubertin, the 24-year-old might have achieved his target of a podium finish.

He only managed to win 16 of his 35 fencing matches on Thursday which left him in 25th place going into the final day of competition on Saturday.

Although he made a superb effort in the show-jumping and the combined run/shooting events, the European champion had to be content with eighth place overall.

"I knew it was going to be a real uphill battle after the fencing, but to get into the top ten, I can't be disappointed with that," he said.

The quality of his performance on the final day, when he jumped a clear round in the show-jumping competition, is underlined by his march to the leadership.

Improved

He improved his standing by 18 places; he was 26th overall after leg two, the 200m swim.

He reserved his best until the last discipline, the run/shooting leg, moving from 15th overall to eighth after successfully hitting all five targets at least once in the shooting section.

He finished 50 points behind the Russian gold medallist Alexander Lesun, which translated into time means that he was 22 seconds away from the gold medal.

Having finished 25th on his Olympic debut in London when he got called up as a late replacement, this performance represents a significant improvement. Taken in tandem with Natalya Coyle's seventh-place finish in the women's event, it underlines how much progress both athletes have made in the last four years.

Significantly, there is speculation that the Tokyo Olympic programme could include a mixed-doubles event which would surely boost Ireland's chances of winning their first ever medal in the sport.

Furthermore, the TV exposure which the exploits of the Irish pair received is likely to attract more people to the discipline, despite its obvious challenges.

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