Natalya Coyle: ‘Travelling with sport, I see the damage climate change is doing around the world’

Olympian says younger generations are a lot more clued into climate change because it’s their future
Natalya Coyle: ‘Travelling with sport, I see the damage climate change is doing around the world’

Irish Athlete and Modern Pentathlon Olympian Natalya Coyle is the new Brand Ambassador for O’Brien’s Sandwich Cafés

Three-time Irish Olympian Natalya Coyle has been busy since Tokyo.

She recently tied the knot with fellow Irish Olympian and modern pentathlete Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe and has just moved to London, where she is embarking on a master's degree in sustainable resources at University College London.

“One of the reasons I was really interested in [the degree] was because, travelling with sport, I see the damage climate change is doing all around the world," she says. 

The 30-year-old, who was born and raised in Meath, says she believes younger generations are a lot more clued into climate change because it’s “their future".

“I think everyone needs to do their part, but you can’t berate people... it’s a very individual journey.

“The biggest change I am trying to make in my personal life is just becoming much more educated on it.” 

  • Natalya, a modern pentathlon Olympian, is the new brand ambassador for O’Brien’s Sandwich Cafés. 

What shape are you in?

I think I'm in pretty good shape, but definitely not as much as I was for the Olympics. I'm just getting back into fencing and running.  I'm just enjoying it for what it is with no pressure.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I love vegetables and salad. I think keeping a variety of food in your diet is important and luckily I like lots of different food.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

I've learned a lot from my nutritionist Sharon Madigan who says that there's no such thing as a guilty pleasure. If you define a food as guilty, it's seen as bad. We try to get away from that. Everything is really good in moderation.

What would keep you awake at night?

At the moment, it is probably my college course and trying to get my head around economics. A few months ago, it would have been thinking about the Olympics. I sleep pretty well, though.

How do you relax?

Having a coffee, walking my dog, chatting to Arthur. Because I am not looking towards an Olympics right now, I really enjoy getting out to exercise. There's nothing better for me than going for a jog in the evening. It just clears my head and my mind.

Natalya Coyle in action at the Tokyo Olympics in August.  Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane
Natalya Coyle in action at the Tokyo Olympics in August.  Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Who are your sporting heroes?

There have been so many athletes that I love to watch, people like Annalise Murphy, Ellen Keane and Fionnuala Britton. 

What’s your favourite smell?

When someone is cooking garlic and onions at the start of a dish, and you can smell it wafting through the house, you know there's a nice meal ahead of you. It reminds me of home.

When was the last time you cried?

Probably at the Olympics and in the weeks afterwards. I was upset at how it went [missing out on a medal] and I was unsure of the course I was going to take.

What traits do you least like in others?

I don't like rudeness. I don't like the way some people treat other people as inferior. Apart from that, I am willing to live with many things - you don't have to get on with everyone in the world.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I can be quite impatient sometimes, especially when people are explaining things to me.  If I can't understand it, I get a bit impatient.

Do you pray?

I used to when I was younger. It's something that I fell out of, but I might fall back into it. Who knows.

What quote inspires you most and why?

At the start of my career, someone said to me, ‘there’s no point doing the sport if you have no one to bring home the medals to'. I interpreted that as friends and family are very important and you need someone there to support you through the bad [times] and celebrate the good.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Home, around the table, just about to have dinner with family and friends. Covid-19 and the lockdowns have really made me appreciate that.

More in this section

Lifestyle
Newsletter

The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up