Irish pentathlete Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe

ARTHUR Lanigan O’Keeffe is the reigning European champion at the five-sport event of pentathlon and the 24-year-old Dub has every intention of grabbing Olympic glory this summer, too.
His training schedule currently hits six training sessions a day, five and a half days a week, and involves spending half of every day inside a purpose-built altitude simulation tent set at 2,150 metres, in order to turbo-charge his level of red blood cells. Lanigan O’Keeffe, who is prepping for his second Olympics, is leaving no stone unturned.
His recent trip to Rio for a rare competition has all been factored into preparation, with the former UCD student examining every aspect of the city’s facilities.
“I’ve already adapted my training,” he told GazetteSport. “I’m taking into account the light conditions at the shooting range, the height of the starting blocks at the swimming pool and the type of horses we’ll have access to.”
Of the five sports – running, swimming, shooting, show jumping and fencing – the Donnybrook man is particularly focused on the fencing, preparation which is a fine art.
“It’s the one area where you can directly take points off your opponents,” he explains. “Every area is important, but if you can do well in the fencing, you’re going to be up there.
“I’m being very careful where I fight, because ahead of the Olympics people are getting very clever with preparation.
“Coaches are filming each other fighting and taking it back so their athletes can go home and learn how to fight you,” he explains. “I won’t be fighting much in public ahead of the Olympics. I think it’ll help me if people don’t know what I’m doing.”
Inevitably, Lanigan O’Keeffe is an impressive all-around athlete. He was part of a Munster rugby development squad and, earlier, a national swimming development squad before he relocated to the UK and focus on modern pentathlon during his late teenage years.
He describes his current condition as “doing everything I can to peak in a few months time”.
“I think gold is more than realistic,” he said. “Everyone’s at a high standard, but the Olympics is something different.
“It’s important I had the experience in 2012 [when Lanigan O’Keeffe was drafted in at late notice for London, after a Polish athlete received a drug ban]. The Olympics is different; there are cameras all over your face. There’s spectators times 10, more rules, more pressure.”
Lanigan O’Keeffe’s support comes in part from Nissan, who have included him in their Next Generation program as an ambassador. In exchange, O’Keeffe drives a new Qashqai and joined a prestigious team of young people Lanigan O’Keeffe says has helped with his belief. The program is now open for new applicants, both athletes and other young high achievers, until May 10 at www.nissangenerationnext.ie.
Lanigan O’Keeffe, meanwhile, has been on the podium at every major event over the last couple of years, and seems to be flying under the radar as a potentially huge Irish gold in Rio. What’s beyond doubt is that he’s got an eye on every fraction.