Natalya Coyle is London bound.
Last week Natalya Coyle became the first Irish athlete to qualify for the Olympics in modern pentathlon and was clearly, and understandably, delighted.
Her Facebook and Twitter feeds read "Just had the best phone call ever! It's official, I've qualified for the Olympics! OFFICIALLY!! :)" and her name immediately appeared online and in newspapers around the world.
On 26th May Natalya, whose father Ray is the head of Largo Foods and Tayto Park, finished in 21st place in the 2012 World Cup Final in China, which theoretically meant that she had qualified for the Olympics but until she received official confirmation she wasn't taking anything for granted.
Natalya's qualification also has excellent significance for Pentathlon Ireland and Horse Sport Ireland. Pentathlon Ireland's Performance Director Lindsey Weedon announced that, "Natalya's qualification is not only a result of all her hard work and dedication but it's been a massive team effort. Our High Performance Programme only began in 2010 and to have made such phenomenal progress in just two years is testament to all those who have helped us out along the way."
The modern pentathlon includes five events: pistol shooting, fencing, freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a 3km cross-country run.
Pentathlon Ireland is affiliated to Horse Sport Ireland and according to their chairman Joe Walsh Natalya's qualification was a great tribute to the work of a great number of people. "Pentathlon Ireland is an entirely voluntary organisation and its officers have achieved something remarkable. In addition, Natalya started her athletic career through the Tetrathlon discipline in the Irish Pony Club and they deserve huge credit for this too. The support of the Irish Sports Council and the Olympic Council of Ireland has also been vital," he said.
Despite her gruelling training routine, huge sacrifices and unquestionable dedication Natalya is quick to attribute her success to her supporters, tweeting "Massive thank you to everyone who's helped make it happen, the institute of sport, the Olympics council, the sports council and all my coaches. Couldn't have done it without any one of you!"
The twenty-one year old from Tara later commented, "To qualify for the Olympics really is a dream come true. I've worked so hard to get there and now I'm excited to get a good block of training done in the run up to the competition". Her training consists of at least four hours of training per day which include all of the disciplines of Modern Pentathlon: Running, Swimming, Shooting, Riding and Fencing.
As if being a fulltime athlete isn't enough, Natalya has just finished her second year of a business-economics degree at Trinity and praises Trinity for their support, "College has been very supportive, and so has the Irish Institute of Sport, which worked with Trinity to make this happen. It just wasn't possible to combine all the training with all the lectures. I'm also very lucky to have got a scholarship through the Olympic Council of Ireland, and this year got a Sports Council grant as well. But there are so many overheads to compete at the highest level, mainly the travel. For years my parents had to foot the bill. But I could always use a sponsor."
Having only started competing internationally 3 years ago, this is a massive achievement for any athlete. Her track record is impeccable having finished 20th in The World Cup Final (Olympic Test Event), Qualifying for the World Championship Final and was in the top 10 World Junior Ranking.
On June 6th Natalya already had the enormous honour of carrying the Olympic flame through the streets of Dublin. She will have to wait a little longer most than other Irish athletes for her moment in the spotlight as the women's modern pentathlon medals will be the last ones awarded in the London Olympic Games on Sunday 12 August.