Great Britain won a second gold in as many days and Russia claimed the women’s relay title in fine style on an action-packed Day 2 of the 2019 Modern Pentathlon European Championships at the University of Bath.
Fresh from winning mixed relay gold with Kerenza Bryson on Tuesday, Myles Pillage teamed up with fellow Bath student Oliver Murray to take the honours in the men’s relay.
They did it the hard way too after starting eighth and 25 seconds adrift in the decisive laser-run before working their way brilliantly through the field to cross the line first ahead of Ukraine and Hungary, much to the delight of a big home crowd.
Pillage said: “To win two golds in two days is an absolute dream. To hear that support gives you so much energy, an extra kick when you need it, and we definitely needed it today.”
Murray, who was making his debut at a major senior championships, added: “That’s not how I expected us to win a medal today! The fact that it was gold and it was won in such style was just awesome. We’ve had a great time, it’s been so much fun and the fans were amazing.”
Ukraine’s Andriy Fedechko, who won silver with Vladyslav Rydvanskyi, said: “It’s amazing – I am old, so not bad!” His team-mate laughed: “He is old but strong.”
Hungary’s Istvan Malits and Richard Bereczki, who started the run-shoot in seventh, were delighted to complete the podium. “I am very happy, we are very happy,” said Bereczki. “We focused on the podium and we made it.”
Russia prevented a clean sweep of relay titles by the host nation as Ekerterina Khuraskina and Anastasia Petrova produced excellent performances in the ride and laser-run to secure the women’s relay crown.
They were the only team to score a maximum 300 points in an eventful riding discipline that saw Pentathlon GB’s Charlie Follett and Zoe Davison slip from first to fourth.
The Russians were put under early pressure by Italy and Hungary during the final event but Khuraskina was eventually able to shake them off and went on to finish eight seconds clear of the field.
“We started the afternoon in fourth place so we are very happy to win gold after some great shooting and great riding,” said Petrova.
Italy’s Beatrice Mercuri and Irene Prampolini started the laser-run in fifth place, 32 seconds adrift, but ran superbly to take silver.
Prampolini said: “I can’t believe that we got a medal, especially a silver as well, because our fencing wasn’t good at the start of the day. This is Beatrice’s first competition as a senior and I am very happy for both of us.”
Mercuri added: “The pace was quicker and the competition was so hard in the fencing but my team-mate finished well. My favourite part of the day was the end, for sure!”
Bronze went to Hungary’s Kamilla Reti and Luca Barta, who said: “It’s been a tough day and we did everything we could, so I’m very happy with the result.”
Davison, who finished fourth with Follett, added: “It’s amazing how quickly things can change in pentathlon. We were flying at the beginning of the day and won two events, then in a matter of seconds it was taken out of our hands. That’s what makes pentathlon so exciting but also so heartwrenching.”
Attention now turns to the individual events, with the men’s qualifying heats taking place on Thursday. They will be looking to book a place in Saturday’s final where eight Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying places will be up for grabs, along with the coveted continental title.
The National Lottery-backed 2019 Modern Pentathlon European Championships – dubbed Gladiators Return – are taking place from August 6-11 at the University of Bath Sports Training Village, home of the Pentathlon GB National Training Centre. More than 150 athletes from 25 countries are competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying event, with all five disciplines – swimming, fencing, riding and the combined run/shoot – taking place in one venue. Visit www.pentathlongb.org/euros2019/ for more information and to purchase tickets.
Story of the day – men’s relay
It was an evenly-matched start in the fencing hall but Pavel Tsikhanau and Kirill Kasyanik of Belarus and Hungary’s Istvan Malits and Richard Bereczki eventually edged ahead with 24 wins apiece from their 36 bouts, just one ahead of both Russia and Germany.
The GB duo of Oliver Murray and Myles Pillage found the going tough and finished ninth overall after winning 14 bouts but excelled in the London 2012 Legacy Pool, setting easily the fastest time of 1:48.16 in the 2x100m freestyle relay.
That was nearly six seconds clear of nearest challengers Danil Kalimullin and Egor Puchkarevskiy of Russia, while Ukraine were third fastest, but it was Belarus who maintained a narrow overall advantage going into the ride.
The competition became even tighter after a riding discipline that saw the countries starting in fourth to eighth all perform well while the top three of Belarus, Russia and Hungary found their horses more challenging to handle.
The Czech Republic’s Martin Bilko and Ondrej Svechota recorded a clear round, picking up the maximum 300 points, and Great Britain, Italy, Ukraine and Germany all clipped just one fence apiece with assured performances in gusty conditions.
That meant it was Germany’s Jan Kauffman and Pele Uibel who went into the run-shoot with a one-second lead over Ukraine’s Vladysav Rydvanskyi and Andriy Fedechko but just 18 seconds separated the top eight, setting the stage for a thrilling finale.
Germany managed to maintain their lead on the first couple of legs of the laser-run but the teams remained bunched up behind them. Pillage eventually pushed through to hand over to Murray in second place and the debutant shot superbly to leave the range in the lead.
Ukraine’s Fedechko tried to apply pressure but Murray held his nerve to bring GB home in style, securing the host nation’s second title in as many events at these championships. Hungary, who recorded the second quickest time of the laser-run, completed the podium.
Story of the day – women’s relay
Charlie Follett and Zoe Davison got the host nation off to a flying start in the swimming pool as they won the 2x100m freestyle relay in 2:05, finishing ahead of Italy and Belarus.
The British duo then extended their overall advantage by coming out on top in the fencing salle, winning 18 of their 32 bouts and adding a point in the bonus round. Hungary and Belarus both recorded 17 victories to move up to second and third overall at the midway point.
However, it was all change after an eventful ride saw Great Britain lose the overall lead after a refusal for Davison at the fourth contributed to them picking up 45 penalty points, allowing the Belarusian duo of Katsiaryna Pasharneva and Katjarina Sukora to go top after conceding just eight time penalties.
Russia’s Anastasia Petrova and Ekaterina Khuraskina went clear to move up to second overall and Hungary held on to third place, despite Kamilla Reti being thrown off her horse as she crossed the finish line – the ride was adjudged to have been completed and no additional penalties were awarded.
Belarus went from first to last in the opening shoot as Russia and Hungary established themselves as leaders by the handover. Khuraskina produced a brilliant shoot to open up a gap and she was able to build on that with a strong performance.
Behind her, Italy and Hungary were tussling for the other medals and it was the experience of Irene Prampolini – a bronze-medallist in the mixed relay – that eventually told.
Courtesy of Team Bath Press Office at Matchtight