AFTER their World Cup series silver medals in Sarasota and Cairo, Irish Olympians Natalya Coyle and Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe won the silver medal in Minsk at the World Cup Final today (Thursday).
This is Ireland’s first ever medal at the World Cup Finals and sees the pair cement their No.1 world ranking in the Mixed Relay event. They’ve competed three times this year and won the silver medal every time.
Ireland scored 24 victories in fencing at Belarus to get off to a great start, and finished in second place. The duo then swam their fastest time of the year to win the swim in a time of 1:56.95 and moved to within one point of the leaders.
Natalya was very unlucky to draw a horse that didn’t like jumping a certain type of fence, refusing at two of them, and with Arthur knocking down one pole the team picked up a few time faults and lost ground on the competition leaders. This meant that the pair started the run/shoot combined event in equal second place.
The Belarusian team was in first place with a lead of 28 seconds. Ireland started equal with Russia and Egypt, while Korea and Guatemala were all in touching distance and the Irish pair knew they had a real race on their hands to secure a medal.
Natalya had a great race and handed over to Arthur in second place, just ahead of the Russians. Going into the last shooting series Arthur was just behind the Russians and produced a great shoot series to leave the range in second place.
Belorussia comfortably won Gold; with Ireland winning Silver well ahead of the Koreans who won the Bronze.
Andy Mackenzie, Performance Director for the Irish team was very impressed with the Irish athletes: “Natalya and Arthur have shown that they are truly world class, no other team has managed to podium every time they’ve raced. These guys work so hard for this and truly deserve these medals, I’m so proud of them!”
Natalya Coyle had mixed emotions, saying “Really happy to come away with Silver today. Unfortunately my ride didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but I’m ecstatic with everything else. Who would have thought a year ago we would be disappointed with Silver? Myself and Arthur work great as a pair so hopefully next time it will be Gold!”
Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe said “I am delighted with today, Silver in the World Cup Final is a major milestone for Natalya and I, made all that sweeter by becoming the No.1 ranked team in the world!”
Both athletes went on to thank everyone for their support back in Ireland “Thanks to all the continued support from home, the Olympic Council, Sports Council and Institute of Sport, it really is very much appreciated.”
Arthur competes in the Men’s World cup Final on Saturday and Natalya in the ladies World Cup Final on Sunday.
Follow them both as they continue their Road to Rio journey on Twitter @NatalyaCoyle and @ArthurLOK1