Pentathlon GB’s Jamie Cooke has risen to World Number 1 in the official Modern Pentathlon World Rankings following last week’s World Championships in Moscow. It caps an incredible 6 weeks for the 25 year-old Brit with his 9th place finish in the Russian capital following victories at World Cup 4 in Kecskemét, Hungary, and the World Cup Final in Sarasota, Florida.
It’s the culmination of 10 years mastering an additional four disciplines for the former swimmer who was convinced to take up the sport by former GB pentathlete Graham Brookhouse – then a coach at Gloucester Swimming Club where Cooke used to train.
Cooke has enjoyed many successes on the Modern Pentathlon circuit, becoming Junior World Champion in 2011 and winning a World Cup in both 2013 and 2015.
However, 2016 has seen him rise to a new level.
The key transformation this year has been with Cooke’s fencing, his weakest discipline and the one that has sometimes held him back over the past four or five years. However, the 25 year-old has produced positive fences (more victories than defeats) in nearly all of his competitions this year, something that would have seemed unimaginable even just 12 months ago.
Cooke is naturally delighted with his current level of performance and describes becoming World number one as “A massive achievement as it’s something you always want to be. It’s not really something you set out to be as you concentrate on results and competitions but it’s a really good way to finish off the Olympic Qualification.”
Cooke’s performance at the World Championships ensured he achieved the Rio Olympics qualification standard by virtue of his place on the ranking list. It means that Great Britain are able to send the maximum compliment of 4 pentathletes to this summer’s Games. The team announcement will take place next Wednesday (8th May).
The Brit continues that “In the 4 years since the last Olympics I really feel I have improved. Then, this year, my fencing has become much more consistent and I have been 50-50 or above in every competition. I think it takes a while to get used to Pentathlon and I’ve just been growing into the sport.”
In addition to his fencing improvement, for which Cooke credits Pentathlon GB Men’s Head Coach Marian Gheorghe, he also gives huge thanks to his running coach Chris Frapwell. Cooke admits that “At the start of the year, including in the Rio test event, my running wasn’t where I wanted it to be which knocked my confidence.
“However, I have the upmost trust in Chris and he explained that I have to run fast at the end of the season not in the first World Cup. This has definitely showed as Kecskemét and Sarasota were my two best times.”
Whilst Cooke’s running times at the World Championships in Moscow saw a small drop-off, he admits that he was simply extremely tired after a gruelling 3 month period and didn’t have the energy to perform to the same level.
Once again Frapwell was there to reassure his young charge, explaining to Cooke that his exertions were bound to catch up with him at some point. This “no nonsense approach” is one that Cooke feels brings out the best in him. He admits that “At times I can massively overthink things. However, Chris tells it how it is and his calmness always reassures me.”
The Brit will be hoping that this calmness continues to be reflected in his performances.
Report courtesy of Pentathlon GB