Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe went one better than his girlfriend 24 hours earlier as he won a historic first UIPM Pentathlon World Cup Final medal for Ireland in Kazakhstan last weekend.
The Donnybrook-based athlete and partner Natalya Coyle won gold in the mixed relay two years in a row but neither had come home with an individual medal until Saturday – despite Coyle’s best efforts in finishing fourth in the women’s final on Friday.
Lanigan-O’Keeffe, 26, was European individual champion in 2015 and won a brilliant gold at Pentathlon World Cup Sofia last month, but this was arguably his finest day as a solo pentathlete.
The Pentathlon World Cup Final is third in terms of prestige to the Pentathlon World Championships and the Olympic Games, where Lanigan-O’Keeffe managed top-10 finishes at London 2012 and Rio 2016.
This time, the only thing separating him from gold was a brilliant Korean duo – Jung Jinhwa won a dominant gold and Jun Woongtae kept the Irish charge at bay to secure silver.
Lanigan-O’Keeffe admitted that the sandy running track had made life difficult for the group of athletes locked in an intense battle for podium places during the decisive Laser-Run event in Astana.
He said: “It was a very tough course and the sand was deep in places. On the last two laps, everyone around me was feeling it and it was a real battle of guts.
“Anything can happen in Laser-Run and you never know if the leader will keep his head, so I never gave up hope of gold, but Jung was the best man today.
“I just kept chasing everyone who was in front of me, and I managed to get past the Russian [Alexander Lifanov] but I couldn’t quite catch the second-placed Korean. They have a great team.”
Lanigan-O’Keeffe had performed consistently throughout the final, finishing seventh in fencing with a tally of 20 wins and 14 defeats, second in swimming with a 200m freestyle time of 2mins 01.91secs and top of the standings in horse riding after an immaculate clear round.
Lanigan-O’Keeffe and Coyle now adjust their focus to the European Championships in Hungary from July.