London 2012: Introducing… Natalya Coyle

Ireland’s first modern pentathlon representative since the 1980s is a prodigious 21-year-old.

Coyle originally competed in tetrathlon.
Coyle originally competed in tetrathlon.

Event: Modern pentathlon

Who is she? Ireland’s first modern pentathlon representative since the 1980s – the sport is a combination of fencing, swimming, riding, running and shooting. She has only been competing in pentathlon on an international level since 2009.

Road to London: She had originally been competing nationally and internationally in tetrathlon (a form of pentathlon for younger athletes without fencing), before a friend presented her with an épée and persuaded her to take up pentathlon. She finished 20th in the World Cup Final last August, and despite suffering disappointment when she failed to qualify for the World Championship finals, she recovered to finish 21st in the World Cup Final in China last month – a result that secured her place at the Olympics.

What she says about herself: “It’s about soaking it up and getting the most experience. Of course I’m going to perform to the best I can possibly do but I’m 21, there’s probably only going to be two or three people younger than me at the start line. In Rio I’ll still be young — 24, nearly 25 — so that’s when I’ll look to do my best performance.”

What they’re saying on the internet: “No matter how things pan out (good or bad) for our pentathletes this time round, Ireland has a very bright future with this current crop of talented youngsters.” (Dan man,

Medal chances? As she admits herself, at 21 years of age, she is still well off her peak, so 2016 may be her best chance to make a significant impact, but given her rapid development having only begun competing internationally in 2009, it’d be foolish to write her off completely.

Mr Magee is feeling somewhat grumpy today, so she’s only getting two Jimmies I’m afraid…

If you meet her in a bar, ask her about… What it’s like to see the world. She has travelled so frequently in recent years that she jokes of being the “world’s best packer”.

On the Twitter: For plenty of pentathlon-related banter, you can follow @Natalyacoyle. Moreover, the level of interactions on her page suggests she is likely to tweet you back if you have any questions to pose.

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If she was a YouTube video, she’d be… David After Dentist. Young and presumably somewhat awestruck by the abundance of new experiences she is currently encountering.

YouTube credit:

Read: London 2012: Introducing… Gavin Noble>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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