London 2012 silver medalist Murray holds off Jess Varley and Jo Muir in women’s competition. Rio Olympian Cooke wins men’s event ahead of Sam Curry and Joe Choong. Kerenza Bryson and Myles Pillage finish as top Junior athletes in Bath.
Reigning British Champions Samantha Murray and Jamie Cooke enjoyed more success on home soil as they started 2018 with victories at the first Pentathlon GB ranking competition of the year in Bath today. The Rio Olympians were in contention throughout the day, Cooke leading from start-to-finish in the men’s event, whilst Murray was second following the opening two disciplines before taking the lead after the laser run and retaining it during the horseriding phase of the women’s competition.
In the women’s event, Murray edged out Jess Varley into 2nd with Joanna Muir 3rd whilst Cooke finished ahead of Sam Curry and Joe Choong in the men’s event. Plymouth duo Kerenza Bryson and Myles Pillage, who both finished 5th, were the highest placed Junior athletes in the respective events.
Story of the Day – Women’s event
The competition marked the beginning of a long 2018 season with the World Championships in Mexico not taking place until mid-September. However, the event was still keenly contested with all athletes already well into their winter training blocks. In the fencing hall, it was Surrey’s Francesca Summers who led the way with the Sky Sports Scholar producing a fine display to secure 23 victories and just 5 defeats from her 28 bouts. A strong second half saw London 2012 silver medallist Murray secure 19 victories, the same number as Jess Varley who is one of three new athletes to be accepted onto the Pentathlon GB World Class Performance Programme for 2018.
In the pool, Murray led the way in a time of 2:15.71, ahead of Lancashire’s Georgia Hannam (2:17.58) and Saddleworth’s Olivia Green (2:19.17). It meant 21-year-old Summers maintained a 6-second lead over Murray after the opening two disciplines with Varley a further 16 points back.
A thrilling laser run saw a great battle between the top 3 as the positions changed throughout. However, Murray made her break on the third 800m loop, leading into the range for the final shoot and maintaining that advantage to the line with Varley in 2nd and Summers 3rd at the end of the discipline. Behind them, Muir and Green matched each other stride-for-stride to record the two quickest laser run times of the day and lie in 4th and 5th overall.
There were still big changes to follow though on a tricky course in the ride. After some difficulties for the earlier starters, Green was eliminated after an error at the final fence while a fall saw Summers suffer 58 penalty points. It meant that Murray claimed top honours at the opening event of the season with Varley 2nd and Muir 3rd after the joint best ride of the day along with Holly Parker.
Behind the leading trio, Summers held on to 4th with Kerenza the top junior athlete in 5th and Bristol’s Charlie Follett 6th. Somerset’s Holly Parker came home 7th ahead of Hertfordshire’s Amy Silk and Wiltshire’s Katherine Townsend with Green round out the top 10.
Story of the Day – Men’s Event
The Men’s event also began in the fencing salle with a fantastic start helping Cooke to record 27 victories and 9 defeats from his 36 bouts. Tom Toolis, who is currently studying for a Masters degree in London, finished 1 hit further back with Joe Choong, Myles Pillage and Paul Hodgson all recording 23 victories.
In the pool, it was Pillage who led the way with a time of 2:02.01, just ahead of fellow 19-year-old Bradley Sutton (2:02.60) with Cooke finishing the discipline in 3rd (2:05.79). It meant that Gloucester’s Cooke had a 12-second advantage over Romford’s Toolis after the opening two disciplines with Plymouth born Pillage a further 5 seconds back in third.
26-year-old Cooke maintained his advantage during the laser run with fellow 2016 Olympian Joe Choong moving from 4th to 2nd in the overall standings thanks to some sharp shooting. Toolis, who finished 20th at last year’s World Championships, crossed the line 3rd at the end of the discipline with Surrey’s Sam Curry moving up to 4th with the quickest laser run of the afternoon.
As with the Women’s competition, the ride shook up the order but a perfect clear round from Cooke ensured he maintained top position at the competition’s close. Behind him, the full 300 points saw Curry move up to 2nd with Choong 3rd and Toolis 4th after both picked up penalty points. Pillage maintained his position as the top Junior athlete in 5th with 18-year-old George Budden finishing the competition in 6th. Another Jamie, Harper, finished 7th ahead of Bradley Sutton, Paul Hodgson and Okan Onay who rounded out the top 10.
The second Pentathlon GB National Ranking Competition of the year takes place on February 10th, also at the University of Bath and West Wilts Equestrian Centre
Report courtesy of Pentathlon GB