For every athlete in every sport, the thrill of representing your country remains the same. No matter the stature of the performer, when a sportsperson talks about representing their nation an unmistakable passion is present.
DCU student Eanna Bailey is no different. Bailey won a Silver Medal with teammate Natalya Coyle in the mixed relay at the Modern Pentathlon World Cup in California two weeks ago and the DCU student found the final stages of the race to be an emotional experience.
“It is an incredible feeling to win a medal for your country. The last 100m is something that I’ll never forget. I knew we had sealed a silver medal so it really hit me then. You start to well up and it is really hard to put into words what that feeling is like.”
The modern pentathlon may not have been on many Irish fans radar before the Olympics where Irishman Arthur Lanigan O’Keeffe competed in the competition. Bailey was up against stern opposition in California and thinks that he and his relay partner deserved their reward.
“We were competing against the best in the world so we earned our medals and it wasn’t just down to luck that we got them. The competition was of an Olympic standard.”
The modern pentathlon is made up of show jumping, shooting, cross county, swimming and fencing, which can make it difficult to train for. Bailey is forced to train for each discipline separately as there is currently no club that caters exclusively to the sport.
“There isn’t a high performance training unit for the pentathlon. The last seven years I have spent training I have used different clubs to prepare for the different events in the competition. That makes training harder and hopefully the medal gets us a bit more notice and hopefully some more funding.”
It isn’t just modern pentathlon medals that Bailey has been winning lately. He was also part of the DCU swimming club that had a successful intervarsity campaign and picked up another medal as part of a relay team.
“I broke my finger in the build up to the intervarsities so unfortunately I had to withdraw from my individual race but I was still able to take part in the team relay. I didn’t want to let the team down and I was delighted that we all pulled together to get a medal. I think I perform well in a team so I was happy to be able to swim despite my injury.”
Outsiders might think the events that are grouped together in the modern pentathlon might make it difficult to train for, and they would be right. While cross country and show jumping are well established in Ireland, other sports such as fencing have less of a foothold in the country and therefore are harder to train for.
“The standard of fencing in Ireland isn’t that high so we go to international training camps to prepare. Those camps are particularly important for me because fencing would be the weakest part of my game.
You’re meant to focus on the sports you are less good at so I don’t spend much time show jumping and instead try to do more fencing training.” said Bailey.
One discipline that Bailey has no trouble in is the shooting. The recent World Cup saw him hit a perfect five targets from five which helped his team get a place on the podium. Come competition time he is a bit like Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry” minus the “Do you feel lucky punk?”
It’s hard to explain what comes over me when I do the shooting in the competition. I can’t really describe it. I’m just very comfortable when it comes to that part of the tournament so it’s nice to know I have that in the locker for when I need it.”
The World Cup medal is a nice springboard for the future and Bailey hopes it will propel him into Olympic contention for Rio in 2016.
“I wasn’t that far off making the London games but I just didn’t have as good a year as I wanted to in 2012. The 2016 games is definitely something I’m gunning for and although it will be a long process until then I’m hopeful that if I continue to progress I might be able to take part.”