Cooke and French take commanding Pentathlon GB ranking victories

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World Champion Jamie Cooke and European medallist Kate French made their intentions for the new season clear with commanding victories at the opening Pentathlon GB 2019 National Ranking Competition today. Gravesend’s French led from start to finish in a competitive women’s field, finishing ahead of Kerenza Bryson and Joanna Muir.

Cooke meanwhile, was second after the fence and swim, but just as was the case in Mexico 4 months ago, he surged through in the laser run to take control before holding onto his advantage in the horse-riding discipline. That saw him finish Myles Pillage and Tom Toolis in Bath.

As a result, Plymouth duo Bryson and Pillage were the highest placed Junior athletes in the women’s and men’s competition respectively.

Story of the Day – Men’s event

It was Pillage and Rio Olympian Joe Choong who took charge in the fencing hall, both finishing with 23 victories and 7 defeats from their 30 bouts with Cooke and Toolis both 3 hits further back.

In the pool, Cambridge University’s Henry Choong stopped the clock in 2:01.55 to record the quickest time of the day with Cooke (2:02.48) and Pillage (2:02.54) following.  That meant Pillage, Cooke and Choong – the trio who won a historic men’s team medal at last year’s World Championships – occupied the top 3 places heading into the laser run with Toolis in 4thand Basingstoke’s Bradley Sutton 5th.

27-year-old Cooke then came to the fore, recording the quickest time in the laser run to move into a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Behind him, Pillage maintained his place in 2nd with Toolis moving up to 3rd and Sutton 4th as Choong dropped out of contention due to illness. That allowed Gloucester’s Jamie Harper to move up to 5th and Clitheroe’s Oliver Murray 6thafter the opening four disciplines.

There was little change in the ride with most of the leading athletes scoring well, but 20-year-old Sutton slipped a couple of places after an unfortunate refusal at the 11th fence. That meant Cooke guaranteed his victory with Pillage and Toolis rounding out the podium places. Behind them, Murray finished 4th with Harper 5th and Sutton 6th meaning the top six finishers all train at Pentathlon GB’s National Training Centre at the University of Bath.

Hartpury College’s Jack White, Millfield School’s Will Howard, Henry Choong and the University of Bath’s Josh Miler rounded out the top 10

Full men’s results

Story of the Day – Women’s Competition

The women’s event also began in the fencing salle and Rio Olympian Kate French took command from the off, topping the discipline standings with 36 victories and just 6 defeats from her 42 bouts. That put her 5 victories ahead of the rest of the field with Francesca Summers (31V 11D) and Kerenza Bryson (30V 12D) also performing well in the opening discipline.

Zoe Davison, who finished 4th at last year’s Junior World Championships in the Czech Republic, led the way in the swim with a time of 2:17.06. She was followed by Joanna Muir (2:17.55) and Georgia Hannam (2:17.71) with French recording the fourth quickest time to extend her overall advantage to 37 points over Summers after the opening two disciplines.

Although the gap at the front was large, just 58 seconds separated Summers from 14th placed Holly Parker which meant a thrilling battle ensued behind. French comfortably maintained her lead with Dorking’s Summers holding onto second and Plymouth’s Bryson third despite pressure from the chasing pack. France’s Emma Riff, competing in the competition as a guest of Pentathlon GB’s, moved up to fourth with Jo Muir 5th and Olivia Green 6th thanks to the quickest two laser run times of the women’s competition.

As is so often the case, things can change quickly in the horse-riding arena and Summers and Riff were to be the biggest losers with Summers suffering numerous time faults and Riff being eliminated due to four refusals.

However, there was to be no such drama for French with a controlled round seeing her take victory by over 30 points from Bryson with Scotland’s Muir moving up to third. Summers finished in 4th with Bristol’s Charlie Follett 5th after topping the ride standings.

Saddleworth’s Green maintained her position in 6th with Jess Varley 7th and Freyja Atkinson, competing in the first time for over two years, 8th. Stroud’s Davison and Morecambe’s Georgia Hannam, who both now train at Pentathlon GB’s National Training Centre at the University of Bath, rounded out the top 10.

Full women’s results

The second Pentathlon GB National Ranking Competition of the year takes place on Saturday 9th February, also at the University of Bath and West Wiltshire Equestrian Centre. The opening World Cup of the season in Cairo then follows at the end of February as the competition season steps up.

Courtesy of Pentathlon GB