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Irish Olympian Arthur Lanigan O'Keeffe announces retirement with 'letter to 8-year-old self'

The 30-year-old represented Ireland at London 2012 and Rio 2016 in modern pentathlon.

Lanigan O'Keeffe finished eighth at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Lanigan O'Keeffe finished eighth at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

IRISH OLYMPIAN ARTHUR LANIGAN O’KEEFFE announced his retirement on Friday evening, saying that “time has run out” on his dream of winning an Olympic medal.

“There is only so much a body can take,” he wrote in a letter to his eight-year-old self, posted on Instagram.

Lanigan O’Keeffe represented Ireland in modern pentathlon at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, and also qualified for Tokyo 2020 before injury prevented him from competing at a third Games.

In 2015, he won mixed relay bronze at the World Championships alongside his now-wife Natalya Coyle, and then went on to win individual gold at the European Championships later that summer.

The 30-year-old will now pursue a career as a filmmaker.

“Dear eight-year-old self, I hope I did you proud,” he wrote.

“I want to thank you for your dreams as they fuelled me for the past 22 years. I am truly sorry that I fell short of the Olympic medal that you had so wished for, and not getting the chance to give that to you hurts deeply. I gave everything I had to achieve this but my time has run out.”Even though I still have the dream inside me, I no longer have a vessel to survive the pursuit. There is only so much a body can take. I know this feels like failure BUT there are so many things I want you to be proud of and grateful for.

“We are two-time Olympians (and qualified for three); a World Championship medallist, European Champion, World Cup Final medallist. We even managed to reach a ranking of No. 2 in the world and No. 1 in the Mixed Relay.

“I hope you are happy with me and that you are proud of who you have become. I now ask for your permission to start following a new dream. 30-year-old Arthur would like to become a Cinematographer (Director of Photography) and I want to help him get to the top.

“So I am afraid this is where we part ways. I will never forget you or the life we led together. I will carry the experiences had and the lessons learnt forward with me. Same fire; new dream.

“Goodbye little man.


“Arthur Lanigan O’Keeffe”


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