Irish pentathlete Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe says he feels in the best shape of his life ahead of bidding to qualify for a third Olympic Games.
The Kilkenny man has been stepping up his preparations for the 2020 Pentathlon World Cup in Cairo this week with an off-season training camp in Kenya.
“I’m a big sports fan, especially athletics, and I’ve read a lot of sports books about running with Kenyans and I’m friends with a lot of Irish runners who go out there, and my running coach Steve Macklin has been going out there for the last couple of years,” said Lanigan-O’Keeffe.
“It was always something I wanted to do but never something my timetable allowed. This year, recovering from a lacklustre 2019 full of injuries, I felt I needed a slightly different approach.
“It turned out to be a really good decision. I got a big block of training done, much more than I’ve ever done in my life in terms of running, and I was healthy the whole way through.”
The 28-year-old was 8th at the Rio 2016 Olympics on the back of being a European individual champion in 2015.
“It was an amazing experience, and obviously the agenda was not to get better at swimming or fencing anything, it was to get fit again with a big block of training and be ready and robust for the season to come, because it’s going to be a crazy one.
“I also had a physical therapist travel out with me, Evan Scully, who has worked with Olympic champions, and he knew everyone in Kenya and that meant I got a real insight into what life is like out there.
“I came back from Kenya and ran 35sec faster than I’ve ever run for a 5k, and all my testing was far superior to anything I’ve done in my life. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, and that is proved by the results of the physiology tests, which I’ve been doing since 2011.
“I would do that trip every year from now on if I was to continue with Pentathlon. It was something special, a really magical place.”