Kate French produced another fantastic display to continue her sublime season with a 6th place finish at the World Championships in Egypt today. The result, French’s best ever result at a World Championships, came in stifling conditions near the Egyptian capital and culminates a brilliant 12-month-period which started with a 5th place finish at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
As at the Olympics, the fencing ranking round took place the day before the rest of the final, but unlike in Brazil French got off to a quick start with some nimble footwork and impressive hits seeing her sit on 12 victories and 5 defeats halfway through the discipline. As the heat started to take its toll, it was a ratio the Gravesend born athlete managed to maintain during the second half, finishing with 21 victories and 14 defeats from her 35 bouts. It meant French sat in joint 5th overnight and well placed to record another strong international finish.
Day 2 started in the pool with the 200m swim, the former North Kent Modern Pentathlon Club athlete beginning things with a time of 2:18.26. The fencing bonus round followed and although University of Bath graduate French couldn’t add to her tally, she was still well placed in 8th position.
The 26-year-old, who topped the horseriding standings at the Olympics, once again demonstrated her ability in the discipline, calmly navigating her way around a tight and tricky course with just a single knockdown to pick up 293 points. It saw French move up to 5th position in the overall standings and with other athletes, including leader Lena Schoneborn, suffering difficulties, she started the laser run with just an 11 second deficit. However, the top 28 athletes were remarkably separated by just 78 points, ensuring a thrilling finale to event.
The combined running and shooting discipline didn’t disappoint with positions changing throughout but a controlled display from French saw her situated between 4th and 6th throughout the 3200m course. The Bath based athlete eventually crossed the line 6th to record her best ever finish at the World Championships.
Commenting on her performance, French said “Overall I am happy with 6th position, it’s my best World Championships finish, and much better than I have managed at this competition in the last few years.
“Except from the shooting, everything went fairly smoothly with my competition, starting with the fencing yesterday which put me in a good position. I was disappointed with my shooting as it’s normally much better than it was today but that’s the nature of pentathlon.”
Reflecting on the well documented conditions in Egypt, French added “As expected, the conditions were really tough in the heat. Fortunately the ride and laser run were later in the day when it was a little cooler but it was still very humid and running on sand is always harder than on the track or grass that most competitions take place on.”
On her 2017 season as a whole, French concluded “Despite the slight disappointment of the final discipline today, I’m so chuffed with my season overall. I haven’t finished outside the top 7 all year which is such a pleasing achievement as being consistent in this sport is so hard.”
Meanwhile, Pentathlon GB Performance Director Jan Bartu commented “Today was a dramatic day for everybody and we were part of that which was very tense. The ride was chaotic and mixed the order up but we came out of it well thanks to a good performance from Kate.
“It then meant that everybody boiled down to the laser run, as it so often does, and Kate had given herself a chance of a medal. Although it wasn’t to be today as Kate’s shoot wasn’t quite up to her usual standards, 6th place in the World is still a huge achievement for which Kate deserves great recognition.”
Bartu concluded “These conditions have been extremely tough for everyone – athletes have been falling across the line at the end of the laser run – so we can be satisfied which what we’ve achieved as a team.
“Yesterday the two boys [Joe Choong and Tom Toolis] fought very well right to the end and this was the most significant factor in their finishing positions. Their results gave a big boost of the confidence to the team, both fellow athletes and coaching staff, and we now look to build on these Championships in the upcoming season which will be the second on the road to Tokyo 2020.”
Report courtesy of Pentathlon GB