'I can’t describe how happy I am' - Natalya Coyle qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

'I can’t describe how happy I am' - Natalya Coyle qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Ireland's Natalya Coyle has qualified for her third Olympics in a row.

The Modern Pentathlete will be heading to Tokyo after finishing 8th at the European Championships in England yesterday.

The result means Coyle now has 12 months to prepare for the Tokyo Games.

She told Off The Ball afterwards in Bath, saying: "I’m over the moon. The day went so well even though I was really nervous about qualification.

"I was a little rocky at the start of fencing but pulled it back in the middle. Then the horse riding went really well and I just gave it everything in the Laser Run."

Coyle had started the Laser Run in fourth, only 11 seconds behind the leader and effectively third in the race for Tokyo as there were two Belarus athletes ahead of her, only one of whom could qualify.

At the end of a controlled performance, she finished behind fellow qualifiers Kate French (Great Britain), Iryna Prasiantsova (Belarus) and Annika Schleu (Germany) and ahead of Gintare Venckauskaite (Lithuania), Marie Oteiza (France), Adelina Ibatullina (Russia) and Sarolta Kovacs (Hungary).

She said: "I knew I needed a solid run/shoot to finish it over. I can’t describe how happy I am."

The London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympian recorded the 12th-fastest swimming time, 2min 16.99sec for her 200m freestyle.

Coyle made her move up the leaderboard during the fencing, where she achieved 21 wins from her 35 bouts for a ranking of eighth that elevated her to sixth overall.

Coyle knew that even a respectable score would keep her in contention for that coveted Olympic place.

She responded with one of the best rides of the day, dislodging only one obstacle for a score of 291 that briefly gave her the overall lead.

Only one athlete, Adelina Ibatullina of Russia, achieved a perfect score of 300 and there was a major upset when the final rider, Rio 2016 silver medallist Elodie Clouvel of France, suffered elimination, throwing open the race for gold and moving Coyle one place closer to the dream outcome.

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