Arthur’s sword key in Rio

by James Hendicott
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DONNYBROOK-based pentathlete Arthur Lanigan O’Keeffe is hoping an element of surprise combined with a training regime that features altitude tents and running ‘til he drops will be the recipe for gold later this summer in Rio.
Heading into his second Olympics at the age of 24, former-UCD elite sports scholarship participant Lanigan-O’Keeffe has based his strategy in part on the London 2012 winner, Czech national David Svoboda, who came into the games as a bit of an unknown quantity.
“I’m going to stay under the radar, particularly with the fencing,” he said.
“I did raise a few eyebrows at world champs when I was doing some pretty cool moves, but I kept a few of them back. I don’t want to give them all away.
“I’m going to fly to GB and do an elite fencing competition against fencers to warm up, and stay away from the pentathlon crowd.
“I think fencing is where the advantage is going to come,” Lanigan-O’Keeffe explains, adding that he’s been spending up to 14 hours a day in a simulated high-altitude environment set up over his bed to add another element to his training. “I haven’t been showing my hand. They don’t know what’s coming for them.”
Lanigan-O’Keeffe’s schedule did allow for a flying visit to Florida recently, though, where he won World Cup gold alongside Natalya Coyle in the mixed relay event.
“It was amazing, I flew in Friday, competed on Sunday and flew home Monday, but managed to win the gold. I didn’t want to interrupt my training. I was a bit jetlagged, but on the day it was good enough.
“I’m in the form of my life,” he continued. “I’ve never felt like I do now and never been in a position like I’m in now, going in as one of the favourites to win a medal.
“My form’s going great, I’ve had no interruptions to training and I’m just hammering it every single day.
“The pressure of going in as one of the medal hopes is, if anything, driving me on in my training, so I’m using it to my advantage. But it’s certainly there.
“Four years I was just going in for the experience as a young athlete,” he concluded.
“I had no real chance of competing. But it was an important experience.
“The Olympics is unlike any other competition, especially for minority sports. The crowds are tenfold.
“There’s restricted access to coaches. There are all these different elements that just don’t happen in other competitions. Everything’s about being ready.”

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