Rio Olympians Kate French and Joe Choong became the new British Modern Pentathlon Champions on a thrilling day of action at the University of Bath yesterday.
Although two of the biggest names currently involved in the sport came out on top in the end, both faced day long battles with numerous athletes in contention for medals as many of Pentathlon GB’s younger athletes showed the future is bright with some stellar performances.
Behind French, Somerset’s Holly Parker claimed silver as she produced arguably the best performance of her career with 2014 World Champion Samantha Murray taking bronze after an entertaining battle for the minor medals. In the men’s competition, it was the race for gold which produced the excitement with Choong edging out Sam Curry into second and Bradley Sutton into third.
Story of the Day – Women’s Competition
The day began in the fencing hall with very little to separate the leading ladies in the opening discipline. It was Parker who came out on top with 27 victories and just 7 defeats to her name, a single victory ahead of Kate and Bristol’s Charlie Follett. Lancashire’s Georgia Hannam was one hit further adrift with Dacorum MPC’s Amy Silk finishing with 24 victories to her name. Zoe Davison (22 victories), Sam Murray (20) and Jo Muir (20) ensured the top 8 at the end of the opening discipline would occupy the top 8 positions at the end of the day, albeit with the order changed around.
In the swim, 2012 Olympic silver medallist Murray led the way in 2:15.11, just over 2 seconds quicker than Stroud’s Davison (2:17.41) with Buckinghamshire’s Sarah Collin third quickest in a time of 2:18.13.
A rare treat saw the horseriding discipline also taking place on the University of Bath campus. Eight clear rounds demonstrated the strength in depth on show in the women’s field. Remarkably, the top three in the overall standings (Parker, French & Hannam) all picked up the maximum 300 points to retain their places in the medal positions.
It was French, fresh off the back of her gold at World Cup 4 two weeks ago, who took control in the laser run, overtaking Holly at the beginning on the second 800m loop and extending her lead throughout to take a commanding victory and the British title. There was huge excitement behind French though with a laser run-long battle between Davison, Follett, Murray and Muir developing for bronze. The quartet were also closing on Parker and starting to put pressure on her second position but a gutsy final 800m loop from the 21-year-old saw her hold on to silver and also the Junior British Champion title. Behind her, Murray edged out Davison in a sprint finish for bronze with Follett just behind in 5th as just five seconds covered 2nd-5th at the line. Muir finished just six seconds further back in 6th after the quickest laser run of the day with Hannam coming home 7th ahead of Amy Silk in 8th, Loughborough University’s Clemmie Cooper in 9th and Oxford University’s Rosa Chrystie-Lowe in 10th.
Story of the Day – Men’s Competition
As with the women’s competition, the fence set the tone for the entire day with the leading contenders at the end of the day moving into position early. It was Choong who topped the standings with 16 victories and just 4 defeats to his name, one hit clear of Curry and Sutton.
Plymouth’s Myles Pillage (2:01.38) led the way in the swim with Sutton (2:03.06) and Choong (2:06.83) recording the second and third quickest times of the day to maintain their place at the head of the leaderboard.
In contrast to the women’s ride, there were just two clear rounds in the men’s event, although one came from Sutton which saw him move into the lead after three events. Choong rolled just a single pole to keep himself firmly in contention with two knockdowns for Curry, including the last fence, leaving himself more work to do in the final discipline.
Another thrilling laser run followed, much to the excitement of the crowd gathered at the University of Bath as Sutton and Choong tracked each other for the opening 2000m with Curry continually closing the gap. By the final shoot the three athletes were all together resulting in a final lap shootout to decide the medal order. With 250m to go, Curry tried to make his decisive break but Choong managed to stick with him before pulling clear in the final 50m to take victory by just two seconds with Sutton claiming a fine bronze on the heels of his two more experienced teammates and as a result the Junior British title. Another sprint finish saw Jamie Harper claim 4th ahead of Myles Pillage with Oliver Murray 6th and Okan Onay 7th as NTC based athletes occupied the top 7 positions. Hartpury Academy MPC’s Monty Podger took 8th with Josh Miller 9th and Jack White rounding out the top 10.
Courtesy of Pentathlon GB