Friday, 3 August 2012

Harry Peck invited to spar with Olympic Pentathlon Team

On Tuesday 31th August this week I was lucky enough to fence with the Irish pentathlon team.

Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe (22) and Natalya Coyle (21) will fence on Saturday and Sunday 11th and 12th August. They are training in Twickenham - their coach Marek Makay was pleased to keep them away from the carnival distraction of the Olympic Village. He told me he likes the team to watch other sports, but as the former coach for the Egyptian team for Beijing and Sydney, he has found that maintaining some distance from the Olympic carnival is best to keep the fencers grounded and ready to compete.
The pentathletes not surprisingly are relaxed, and happy. They are also incredibly friendly and welcoming, and kept on thanking me for fencing with them. I couldn't help but like them all.
The fencers' regime is interesting. They recreate the fencing conditions exactly. They will compete between 8 and 10, so that is when they train. The coach times all their activity – getting them to fence for a minute, rest for a minute. And because pentathletes are competing to win a single hit, we tested weapons, saluted, and started a new bout after each hit. The routine is repeated.... and repeated.
Fencing was done to background music - keeping the atmosphere light and fun, and the only dissent was the friendly banter when a fencer changed the music too slowly, or put an unpopular track.
The athletes worked hard, and I fenced constantly almost from the moment I was warmed up - getting increasingly tired. I noticed Arthur seemed not to have broken into a sweat when Marek finally called a halt to the session...
I am looking forward to going back on Friday when we will take part in a pool unique.

But I have to admit that the best bit of all was getting my accreditation - the pass said : "Harry Peck. Irish Olympic Team" and my photo.
It's nice to dream....
I’m off to Poland on Saturday to train with the Polish Cadet team for two weeks before flying to Germany to train with the GB Academy. As a result I won't be able to watch how the pentathletes get on. Without wanting to reduce the chances for the GB team in the slightest, I can't help but hope that Natalya or Arthur will win a medal.

Cheer them on for me?

Photo: From left to right: Me, Irish Pentathlon Coach Marek Makay and Lindsey Weedon who is not only Performance Director for Irish Pentathlon, but also a great fencer!

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