Kate French produced a superb display to claim the second modern pentathlon World Cup victory of her career in Sofia. The Rio Olympian, who took some time off after last year’s World Championships, only returned to international action earlier this month but didn’t show any signs of rustiness with a commanding display in Bulgaria. It was the fourth World Cup medal of French’s career and the third in the last fifteen months, adding to her win in Cairo and silver in Los Angeles last year.
Fellow Olympian Samantha Murray produced a strong laser run to finish just outside the top ten in 11th with Jess Varley 22nd and Francesca Summers 33rd after falling out of contention for a strong finish in the ride.
Reflecting on her success, French said “I’m so happy to have won gold today and it was also quite unexpected after having 6 months off after last season.
“My fencing has been really strong in the last 12 months and today that put me in a really good position for the rest of the competition. I’m incredibly pleased that I managed to hold things together from there in both the ride and laser run.”
French was also particularly happy with the way she linked with her allocated horse today explaining “I loved my horse today! She reminded me of a pony I used to have when I was younger and that gave me confidence going into the arena.”
Story of the Day
The day got off to an excellent start for the British quartet as all four improved on their times from qualifying in the swim. It was Clitheroe’s Murray who led the way, recording a season’s best of 2:11.85 as she finished level with the leading athletes. Gravesend’s French left herself well placed with a 2:22.16 with Fotheringhay’s Varley just behind in 2:23.21, over three seconds quicker than she managed on Wednesday. The final member of the Pentathlon GB’s team, Dorking’s Francesca Summers began her day with a 2:26.32.
French has matured into one of the best fencers in the women’s modern pentathlon field in recent seasons and it was the second discipline of the day which once again propelled her into contention for a strong finish. The 27-year-old got off to a fantastic start, winning 15 of her 17 bouts in the opening half of the ranking round. The University of Bath based athlete maintained her place towards the top of the discipline standings with a strong second half, finishing with 26 victories and just 9 defeats to her name.
22-year-old Summers also enjoyed a strong second discipline, claiming 21 victories from her 35 bouts with University of Bath graduates Murray and Varley finishing on 15 and 13 hits respectively. Varley added an additional 2 points in the bonus round but it was French who was once again the star of the show, winning the final two bouts against Marie Oteiza and Natalya Coyle to claim the bonus round honours.
There were to be no perfect scores in the riding discipline on an extremely twisty course with a tight time limit. However, French, who won the riding discipline at the 2016 Olympics showed her skill in the event as she suffered just six time faults to pick up 294 points. Varley and Murray who were making their third World Cup appearances of the season also both showed composure in the third discipline, recording 289 points and 287 points.
Summers was also enjoying a fine round until a fall at the 10th obstacle cost her dearly. However, the former North Kent MPC athlete showed very good maturity to regroup and compete her round with 232 points.
That meant French retained her place in 2nd on the overall standings with Murray 17th, Varley 29th and Summers 31st heading into the laser run.
It was another masterclass in the final discipline from the Brit, closing to gap on leader Natalya Coyle in the opening 2400m before taking the lead thanks to a perfect 10-second third shoot. From there, French never looked back, controlling the race from the front, to take the win by thirteen seconds from Coyle with Russia’s Uliana Batashova coming home 3rd.
A strong performance in the run-shoot from 2014 World Champion Murray saw her move up to 11th place at the line with Varley also gaining ground in the final discipline to come home 22nd with Summers 33rd.
Tomorrow sees the men’s final taking place where Pentathlon GB will once again have good representation after Jamie Cooke, Tom Toolis and Sam Curry all came through qualifying yesterday.
The next time French, Murray, Varley and Summers will be action is at the British Modern Pentathlon Championships on Saturday June 9th at the University of Bath. Entry to that event is free for spectators.
Courtesy of Pentathlon GB