Although it appears heartbreak is mounting in the Team Ireland camp as the Olympics tear on the nation never fails to assert its pride in our athletes.
None other was that so evident than this morning when Natalya Coyle’s career appears to have come to a close in distressing circumstances in the Modern Pentathlon.
After five years of hard work, Natalya Coyle’s hopes of an Olympic medal were completely unravelled by the luck of the draw. After drawing her horse Constantin for the showjumping event, the horse was not happy on the day and refused to cooperate.
You are my hero & one of the best athletes to ever represent our country.
We are ALL soo proud of you @Natalyacoyle. You did not deserve this....but regardless of everything that happened today, you will be remembered as a champion! #Devastated #hero @TeamIreland @RTEsport https://t.co/2Wp4uBtsAO
— Arthur LOK (@ArthurLOK1) August 6, 2021
Also in action were the women’s single golfers of Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow who have slipped slightly off the beaten track but still have an outside track at medals, while Shannon McCurley and Emily Kay made history in the team cycling event but were ultimately ruled out of the contest.
Despite one of the showings of her life it was a less than co-operative horse rather than her own doing that dismantled Natalya Coyle’s Olympic medal dream this morning.
The event, which has went without alteration since its introduction to the quadrennial competition in 1912, features swimming, fencing, show jumping, cross country running and pistol shooting and is just as gruelling as it sounds.
In the face of it all however Coyle was looking promising going into the business end of the clash in fourth place after impressive displays in the 200m freestyle and fencing bouts. The Meath native had 23 victories and 12 defeats in her opening fencing round. She then went on to swim 2:13.88 for the 200m freestyle – just .5s off her personal best. After another victory in the bonus fencing round, the 2012 and 2016 Olympian was in fourth place.
It was in the showjumping event when things went array. In Modern Pentathlon, all competitors are assigned a random horse (one horse per two competitors) where they are given just 20 minutes before the event to familiarise themselves. As such, some competitors get better horses than others.
As Coyle was sitting in fourth place, she was the fourth last competitor to go out. She has a chance to see how her horse would ride as Uzbekistan’s Alise Fakhrutdinova went out on Constantin first. In the Uzbek’s run, Constantin failed to get over the treble and then refused several fences.
Not being able to bring your own horse in modern pentathlon is just so cruel, but it’s an integral part of the sport. It goes back to a solider being able to ride out of battle on any horse 🐎 Natalya did everything to tame that rogue 😭 #Tokyo2020
— Evanne Ní Chuilinn (@EvanneNiC) August 6, 2021
When it was Coyle’s turn, she navigated the first few jumps to perfection but like her Uzbek opponent, Coyle was faced with a refusal over the treble despite her best efforts to comfort the horst. With more refusals and time faults, the Irish star dropped down to 19th overall after scoring of 234 points out of a possible 300.
After the event, Coyle was left with a 64 second deficit to make up in the laser run. An impossible task. The three-time Olympian could not recover and clearly still effected by the round previous, finished 24th overall.
Speaking with RTE Sport after the race the three time Olympian remarked how it is “just hard when you’re really close and it’s snatched away from you."
"It's just really upsetting," she said."Especially after the fencing, I thought I was in with a shout.”
"I knew it was going to be trouble [with the horse], but I thought I might be able to handle it.
"It’s not the way I wanted to finish out my career, but hopefully I can look back in a day or two and be happy with coming third in the fencing."
"It's difficult in the modern pentathlon because someone else has to ride it first and she didn’t get over the treble, so I knew it was going to be tough, but I thought I came in with a good plan.”
"I know one of the fences was definitely my fault, number four, but I thought I did everything right or gave enough encouragement but obviously not."
“I always remember from my first Games, my dad saying you can train as hard as you want but you never know with the horse. It’s a lottery and in two Games I’ve been lucky, but on the third not so much.”
Constantin is a 14-year old horse who has competed regularly at Concours de Saut International 1 & 2 events. His experience would indicate that he is capable of navigating the course but on today’s showing, he was not ready to compete at his maximum capabilities.
Natalya, I’m at a loss for words. You deserved so much more today. Pentathlon is the cruelest sport. You are a GIANT of the sport and always will be. My champion @Natalyacoyle pic.twitter.com/KuJkDzKLxr
— Sive Brassil (@brassil_sive) August 6, 2021
12:18 am saw round three of the women’s singles golf get underway, in which Ireland had two participants in Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow.
The results saw the USA’s Nelly Korda leading the field on -15, with Meadow still in the mix at -7 and Maguire winding up with -5 below par at the end of the day.
A bright start for Cavan’s Leona became undone when she fumbled at the ninth hole to earn a triple bogey, while her playing partner picked up two bogeys and two birdies on the front nine before supplementing with three more shots on the last half to capture her position.
Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow expressed rather different emotions after their third rounds at Kasumigaseki Country Club. #olympics #tokyo2020 #RTESport
📺 Watch live - https://t.co/M2TjrsXeu9…
📱 Updates – https://t.co/OrT9bBAeWr… pic.twitter.com/lSBsUMCnsH
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 6, 2021
On the cycling track of the Izu Velodrome Emily Kay and Shannon McCurley’s madison debut was cut short as a collision with an Italian rider provided them with a DNF.
Having lost time as a consequence the double made the decision to depart from the 30 km race when they lost two laps and settled for 13thplace overall.
Not the only ones to have suffered as a result of a crash, the eventual standings saw Great Britain attain gold, Denmark win silver and ROC collect bronze medals.
A crash derails Ireland’s Olympic Madison Debut as Team Ireland suffers a DNF.
Tokyo 2020 was the first time the Women’s Madison has featured at an Olympic Games so it was a real honour for Emily and Shannon to represent Ireland ☘️#TeamIreland | #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/yJOrbVi61l
— Team Ireland (@TeamIreland) August 6, 2021
Coming up tonight
Fionnuala McCormack and Aoife Cooke are set to take part in the Women’s Marathon at 10pm Irish time this evening.
Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow also continue their Olympic golfing campaign from 11:18 tonight.