Source: Nuno Goncalves

Pentathlon GB’s Muir, French and Summers record top 20s

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Trademark laser run sees Jo Muir lead GB team home in 16th after punishing day in Mexico City, Kate French (19th) and Frankie Summers (20th) make it three British women in top 20 for first time since 2013

Jo Muir led the Pentathlon GB women’s team home in 16th at the 2018 World Championships with Kate French 19th and Francesca Summers 20th after a punishing laser run in Mexico City. The build-up to the week has been dominated by discussions about altitude and smog and that came to the fore with a chaotic final discipline which saw the order of the field turned upside-down. Muir was one of those to come through the field, gaining nine places in the run-shoot with European silver medallist French one of those to slip back as the lack of oxygen at 2400m took its toll. However, it was the first time since 2013 that three British women have finished inside the top 20 at the World Championships.

Story of the Day

The women’s final began with the fencing ranking round, which sees all athletes fence each other in a round robin format. Rio Olympian French got off to the perfect start, winning her first seven bouts, including victories over fellow Brits Muir and Summers. Although the 27-year-old couldn’t quite maintain that momentum, she still finished with a positive score of 19 victories and 16 defeats from her 35 bouts, leaving the world number 7 well placed overnight. 19 hits was a score matched by Summers with the 22-year-old Brit enjoying a fine second half of the ranking round. The fencing discipline has always been the achilles heel of Muir, but in the toughest event of the season, the Brit put up a good battle, finishing with 14 victories to her name.

With the ranking round complete, day 2 was to be all in one arena with the new Pentathlon Stadium concept being used for the first time. That included a 25m swimming pool, which is where the second day started. All three Brits showed they were up to the fight as they began strongly, Scot Muir leading the way in the second discipline in a time of 2:17.21. Gravesend’s French was just behind her fellow University of Bath based athlete in 2:18.90 with Dorking’s Summers stopping the clock in 2:21.91.

In the fencing bonus round, 24-year-old Muir added two extra points to her score with victories over France’s Julie Belhamri and Ukraine’s Zinayida Batrak before French secured a victory of her own against China’s Yufei Bian, the same athlete who had defeated Summers in the previous bout. That meant French was the lead Brit in 12th after the opening two disciplines, with Summers 17th and Muir 27th.

Muir was the first Pentathlon GB athlete into the horseriding arena where on a tricky little pony, she faced a real test. However, the Brit was up to task, demonstrating fantastic horsewomanship skills to avoid any refusals and score 280 points with just two pole knockdowns. Summers also faced a tough assignment, riding a horse that was eliminated in the first round. However, the 2014 Youth Olympic Games silver medallist was calm throughout her round, with just two knockdowns and 286 points with no threat of another elimination.

French, the final Brit into the arena, is one of the best riders on the international modern pentathlon circuit and demonstrated that again, a perfect clear round seeing the European silver medallist score the maximum 300 points and topping the discipline standings, just as she did at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Those performances saw all three British athletes move up the overall standings with French rising to 7th, Summers 15th and Muir 25th heading into the concluding laser run. In normal conditions, the top three would have been out of reach with the rest of the top 10 battling for the minor places but the altitude and fatigue meant that wasn’t the case with the running differences between athletes massively extenuated.

As is often the case, Muir made great gains in the final discipline, moving up to 16th in her first World Championships final. Unusually, French was one of those to lose-out in the run-shoot, dropping to 19th with the altitude appearing have a negative effect. Summers, making her first international appearance since May was one place further back, meaning it was three Pentathlon GB athletes in the top 20 for the first time in five years despite some frustrations and disappointments.

Belarus’ Anastasiya Prokopenko came from over a minute back at the start of the laser run to become the new Modern Pentathlon World Champion with Germany’s Annika Schleu taking silver and European Champion Marie Oteiza bronze.

Courtesy of Pentathlon GB