Kate French produced a superb display to claim a magnificent silver at the European Championships, the first medal at a major championships of her career. The British star was in contention for a strong finish throughout the day and produced when it mattered most with up to 15 athletes in contention during a nail-biting laser run. It also continues a fine run of form for the Pentathlon GB athlete which has seen her win three World Cup medals in the last two years as well as recording top 6 finishes at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 World Championships.
A strong laser run from Joanna Muir saw her finish 17th for the second consecutive year at the European Championships with Samantha Murray 35th in Hungary.
Reflecting on her performance, French said “I’m so happy! I’ve wanted to win a major championships medal for a while so I’m really pleased to have done that today.
“Winning gold at World Cup 4 gave me a lot of confidence because I wasn’t sure where my form would be after the break over the winter. That made me realise I was still very close and was a big factor today.”
With things incredibly tight in the laser run, French added “I was a little bit oblivious to what was going on behind me. I knew I was in a medal position so just concentrated on my own processes as I didn’t know how close the chasing pack were.”
Looking ahead to next year’s European Championships at the University of Bath, French concluded “I can’t wait to compete at the Europeans at Bath next year. I love competing on home soil and the facilities at the University are great. The Hungarians had incredible support this week so it will be great to have that for the British team next year and I hope I can back up this performance in front of them.”
Story of the Day
The women’s final began in the swimming pool with London 2012 silver medallist Murray once again to the fore. Having beaten reigning World Champion Gulnaz Gubaydullina in Thursday’s qualifying, the duo resumed their battle, once again going toe-to-toe across the 200m. it was to be the Russian who got the touch on this occasion but Murray still posted a 2:10.15 to improve on her qualifying time and sit second after the opening discipline in Hungary. Dumfries’ Muir and Gravesend’s French were both in the previous heat with Muir stopping the clock in 2:19.41 and French 2:22.08 To begin their days.
It was a slow start for all three Brits in the fencing hall but French, in particular, soon found her stride. The World Cup 4 gold medallist led the discipline standings at the 2/3rds mark, before finishing in 5th place with 23 victories and 12 defeats from her 35 bouts, maintaining her fine recent fencing record in international competitions. Clitheroe’s Murray was around the level mark for the majority of the discipline eventually finishing on 18 victories and 17 defeats with Muir securing 13 hits from her 35 bouts.
A single victory for all three Pentathlon GB athletes in the bonus round means French was placed in 7th with Murray 8th and Muir 31st after the opening two disciplines in Szekesfehervar.
Muir, who finished 5th at the European Championships two years ago, was the first Brit into the riding arena, producing a beautiful round to pick up 293 points with an unfortunate clip of the 9th fence her only penalty points. It was a score matched by French with another strong discipline performance but Murray lost ground after posting 272 points for her round.
As a result French moved up to 5th heading into the laser run with Murray 13th and Muir 25th after the opening three disciplines. As the leaderboard suggested, an explosive laser run followed with just 10 points separating the athletes in 2nd and 9th at the beginning of the final discipline and some of the best runners in the field occupying positions in the teens.
That led to a thrilling final discipline with French demonstrating strong running form as she moved up to 2nd place at the end of the first 800m loop. The Brit tried to close on leader Marie Oteiza of France but the gap proved just too big and instead the focus had to be on keeping the rest of the field behind. That was a task the 27-year-old was up to, maintaining her second place throughout the rest of the final discipline to beat local favourite and two-time World Champion Sarolta Kovacs into bronze.
Behind her, Muir made up places throughout the laser run 17th with Murray finishing 35th after some struggles in the shooting range. However, it was French who stole the limelight, claiming Pentathlon GB’s first individual European medal for 8 years.
Next year’s European Modern Pentathlon Championships will take place at the University of Bath, home of Pentathlon GB’s National Training Centre. The National Lottery funded event, dubbed “Gladiators Return”, will see the best modern Pentathletes from across Europe descend on the former Roman Spa town and will run from 6th-11th August 2019. As well as continental crowns, Tokyo Olympic qualifying places will be up for grabs making it one of the most important events of the season. For more information visit:www.pentathlongb.org/euros2019
Courtesy of Pentathlon GB