Published: Wednesday, 16th February, 2011 4:58pm
Meath student going for gold
Natalya Coyle with Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey is one of five recipients of Olympic scholarships presented by the Olympic Council of Ireland, OCI, to young athletes preparing for qualification for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
To reach the pinnacle of any sport requires dedication, commitment, hard work and plenty of ability. The demands on a pentathlete can be even greater as they bid to reach the summit.
Tara Athletic Club boast one of the world’s leading exponents in 20-year-old Natalya Coyle and already her exceptional abilities have led to her gaining international recognition and financial support from the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI).
Last month she was named as one of five recipients of OCI scholarships awarded to young athletes bidding to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Coyle, a Trinity College student of Business, Economics and Social Studies, aims to represent Ireland at the London Games in the sport of Modern Pentathlon. She joins Lisa Kearney (Judo), Aileen Morrison (Triathlon), Barry Watkins (Canoeing) and Sam Watson (Equestrian) on the OCI scheme.
“The Olympic Council funding helps pay for travel abroad in an effort to qualify for the Olympics in London in 2012. The grant also comes with all the support services such as gym work and physio visits. The Olympics in 2012 is my major goal at the moment,” said Coyle as she took a break from her studies last week to talk to the Meath Chronicle.
“Our scheme is primarily aimed at so-called minority sports and is especially geared to support young athletes who have an excellent chance of making the strenuous qualification standards for the London Games,” commented OCI president Pat Hickey
“We are confident that all five athletes will make the Irish Olympic team for London and that the scholarships, to be used for training and competition purposes, will help them improve their already high competition rankings”.
Coyle, Eanna Bailey (Rolestown) and Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe (Kilkenny) continued their preparations for the 2011 competition season with a warm up competition in Bath last month.
The Meath girl finished ninth in a high quality woman’s field after taking three seconds off her long-course swim time.
Bailey finished third after a very strong fence with Lanigan-O’Keeffee in sixth place.
Travelling abroad to compete at international events is not uncommon for Coyle and her team mates and the Tara girl is focused on what is required to make it to the top.
“The penathlon is a difficult sport because of the multi-discipline. It is so difficult to train for all the events because they are all so different. There is running, shooting, swimming, riding and fencing and I have to try to get in enough training for all those different events,” said Coyle.
“I would train for around 25 hours a week and that is the most difficult part. It is starting to get a bit easier because I have a great support system now with the Institute of Sport, with my college and with my coaches.
“I only have one day off per week, a Sunday while Tuesday is one of my busiest days. I’m in the gym for an hour from 7.0 and then I do running from 9.0 to 10.0. I go straight into shooting then from 10.0 to 11.0 before I take a bit of a break where I have to go to college.
“I start back then with fencing from 2.30 to 5.0 before I head to the pool for swimming from 7.0 to 9.0. So it is a 14-hour day on a Tuesday and it is hard work. On the other days I do three or four sessions.
“I’m really starting to enjoy the fencing discipline and it is becoming my favourite event. Since I’ve started to do more training that has become really enjoyable. I’m in a great club in Trinity, but I like all the disciplines because all the training is starting to pay off.
“I would probably be best at the horse riding discipline because I have been riding horses since a very young age with the pony club. I used to do tetrathlon with the pony club and I progressed from there to the penathlon,” she said.
Olympic qualification takes huge amount of dedication, but Coyle is confident that she has the right support and ability to get her to where she needs to be.
If she can maintain her current form over the next 12 months then she will be a major contender for the London Games. However, she knows it will be hard work, but she is willing to make the sacrifices.
“It is going to be really difficult to qualify for the Olympics. Last year I qualified in the top 36 for the World Cup final in June, so if the Olympics were last year I would have qualified.
“My aim this year is to compete in the top events again and gather enough ranking points to be in the top 36 in the world and therefore qualify. I’m confident that is within my reach, but it will all come down to hard work.
“I’m lucky because two of my really good friends Eanna and Arthur are involved as well so it makes it easier. Throughout all the disciplines I have made great friends and I train with them as well.
“My ultimate aim is to qualify for the Olympics and that is where my focus is. If I do manage to qualify then all the sacrifice is worthwhile,” concluded the determined young Tara woman who is aiming to be a major hit on the worldwide stage.