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Sports you should definitely try this summer... modern pentathlon

Just a little, running, shooting, swimming, horse riding and fencing. No biggie.

IT’S SUMMER, AND there’s frig all midweek sport to command your full attention. So you’ve got ample time to get out there and try your hand (and feet) at a new sporting pastime.

Over the coming (hopefully stone-splitting) months we’ll bring you some top tips on how to take on those sports you’ve always liked the look of, but didn’t quite get around to.

This week… modern pentathlon.

Natalya Coyle 12/8/2012 Natalya Coyle (right) in action in the Copper Box at London 2012. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Give it a go if… you don’t like the idea of sticking to just one sport.

If swimming and running isn’t taking you anywhere, why not combine those two with a bit of fencing, shooting and horse riding thrown in for good measure?

Go on, no bother to ya.

What you need: As you’ll notice, these five events require a sizeable amount of equipment. You can run and swim without much new gear, sure. But guns and ‘swords’ are things you’ll have to pick up along the way. You won’t have to buy your horse, fortunately, as half the challenge of competition is using a strange one.

I can’t afford any / all of that, now what? This ain’t golf. You can’t kit yourself out fully on day one. Feel your way in.

Pentathlon Ireland run ‘taster sessions’ for the sport which would normally cost you an annual membership fee of €25, but you can try out modern pentathlon disciplines free of charge on August 31.

If that goes well and you find out just how much you love shooting an air pistol and fencing (it’ll be a lot) then you can go back on the learn to fence programme which runs through September and October before the National Championships.

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Arthur O'Keeffe Arthur Lanigan-O'Keefe checks the board at the 2012 Games. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Where? Pentathlon Ireland’s base is within the National Sports Campus in north Dublin. From time to time they will also dot talent ID sessions around the country, but none are currently planned.

Hey, did we mention you can do it for free if you get yourself to Dublin? Head to Pentathlon.ie to get in touch.

Anything I can do before taking it on? Before going on to the full five-strong pentathlon, you can always try out the individual disciplines. You can swim and run cross-country anywhere on the island. There are a handful of fencing clubs (listed here) although most are attached to colleges.

footwork Source: Ilkka Hartikainen

For fencing, you can prepare by practicing your footwork and getting your thighs used to being in a half squat position while moving. It’ll hurt, but it’ll help.

Top tip from the pros: In shooting, it’s important to control your breath (after running) so that your aim is steady while your arm is extended straight ahead of you with the pistol in hand.

“I think we all hold our breath when we shoot,” says Olympic pentathlete Natalya Coyle.

Natalya Coyle Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“But for me it’s about continually practicing it. Because the more you do it, the easier it is. At the start, it’s all a bit alien because you’re trying to shoot and your heart rate is flying through the roof.”

Overall, across the five disciplines, Coyle adds the overarching principle:

“Just listen to your coaches and don’t be worried if it’s not going very well at the start. It will always get better.”

So go find yourself a coach, an epee and a pistol, and get modern pentathloning.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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