Natalya Coyle competed in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, finishing seventh overall in Rio. She was the first woman to represent Ireland in the five events of the modern pentathlon: fencing, 200m freestyle swimming, show jumping and a final combined event of pistol shooting and a 3200m cross-country run.
Natalya also won gold at the 2016 Pentathlon World Cup. As a mentor for the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative, Natalya works with Sky Sports to promote sport in schools. She is also a Health and Wellbeing Ambassador with Aramark-the global services, facilities and property management company. She works with them to encourage healthy lifestyle choices in Irish workplaces.
Natalya spoke with us about sport, social media and how tech helps with her training. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
— Sport Ireland (@sportireland) March 8, 2017
What were your highlights of 2016?
Rio definitely. And I also won a World Cup Final relay event with my partner Arthur Lanigan O’Keeffe.
What are your plans for 2017?
I’ve the European Championship in July and the World Championships in Cairo in August so it’s a pretty big year.
You’re an active Twitter user. Do you think social media is a useful tool for women in business and in sports?
Definitely. For minority sports that wouldn’t be on primetime TV, it’s the only way to get your sport and your message out there. The fact that you can show other people your own opinion as well is really good. It’s also a buzz to get to see the person behind the athlete and not just the person you see sweating it out on a field somewhere.
And are there any social influencers or websites that you follow?
I follow most Irish and international athletes. I think it’s important to follow everyone on the circuit. Then I follow lots of people to do with food, because I love seeing how different people make food. I like to follow my friends after that.
— Natalya Coyle (@Natalyacoyle) February 15, 2017
Is there any tech that you particularly like or that helps with your training?
We use a good bit of tech throughout the training. We use a lot of online resources for monitoring our training loads. We do a lot of physiology testing and video analysis through the different sports. Tech would fuel my days in different ways.
Do you see tech becoming more important in the sport in the future?
Definitely. I would get my blood tested every 6 to 8 weeks. That’s analysed and sent across to different coaches. They can use the analysis of my blood to see if I’m training too hard or too little or if I’m about to get sick. We can look at different models through different questions if I would be over training or undertraining. Also using different things in the gym to see how much power I can put out in one leg over the other, if I’ve any discrepancies or even project injuries that might be coming on if you see weaknesses through different limbs. It’s really important and coming much more to the fore.
— Natalya Coyle (@Natalyacoyle) April 9, 2017
What are the skills that have helped you to succeed as an athlete that you think might apply in business as well?
I suppose I’m very good at time-managing and I’m very dedicated. I think athletes are very good in the workplace as well. We do a lot of things like goal setting and time management. We’re able to deal with things under pressure very well and not let failures get to us. These skills will transfer across when I do retire.
Do you have any personal tips to help people maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Just be sure that you find a sport or activity that you enjoy because there is a sport out there for everyone to do. You need to figure out what it is because you don’t have push yourself to do a sport or an activity. It’s supposed to be enjoyable. Try to figure out what you enjoy doing.
Don’t get me wrong getting up early isn’t very enjoyable but you shouldn’t hate every day that you go to the gym or for a run. Just try to find something that you enjoy and do it with some friends. Sport should be a social thing as well.
— Sport Ireland (@sportireland) April 5, 2017
Is there anything you’d like to add or that we should have asked?
I’m a Health and Wellness ambassador for Aramark. I did it last year and luckily I’m going to be this year as well. I go into a lot of secondary schools and workplaces and deliver on health and wellbeing. It’s something that I’m interested in especially with the big obesity problem. The fact that kids up to 16 don’t even bother doing sports is something I attempt to help with.