Eliska Pribylova and Jan Kuf showed a consistent level of professionalism and skill to win gold for the Czech Republic in the Mixed Relay at UIPM 2018 Pentathlon World Cup Sofia.
The Czechs had a slender lead at the beginning of the Laser-Run but Pribylova (CZE) kept her running and shooting performance high to give Kuf (CZE) a straightforward task and eventually he crossed the line with 12sec to spare.
Behind him, Ahmed Elgendy ran with great tenacity to narrowly secure silver for Egypt alongside his partner Salma Abdelmaksoud.
Elgendy (EGY), the star of the recent UIPM Under 19 Tetrathlon World Championships, overtook Yaraslau Radziuk of Belarus to force him to settle for bronze alongside Iryna Prasiantsova.
Gold medallist Kuf (CZE) said: “The whole day was so much fun, it started with really strong Swimming and then Fencing as well. In the Riding our horses were a bit tired, but who can blame them after so many days?
“We managed to shoot well, we kept our distance from the rest of the field … and we won.
“This is a really good boost for the rest of the season because the beginning wasn’t as good as I expected. This is fun.”
Silver medallist Elgendy (EGY) said: “I’m very happy about this medal because it’s the first senior medal of my life. I won gold in the UIPM Under 19 Tetrathlon World Championships last month and it was a dream to compete in a senior competition and get a medal. I’m happy with my running today.”
Bronze medallist Prasiantsova (BLR) said “We enjoyed the whole day, we had some really nice Fencing and Swimming was good, and it was a nice competition for us.
Her partner Radziuk (BLR) added: “For Belarus it has been a very good season but it’s only just started, and we have lots of competitions in the future. We had two individual medals at the second World Cup and now we have one in the Mixed Relay here. It’s been a good season but it can get better.”
Korea (Kim Sunwoo & Seo Changwan) finished 4th, one place ahead of Japan (Misaki Uchida & Tomoya Miguchi) in 5th with France (Julie Belhamri & Brice Loubet) completing the top six.
Two-time World Cup Final winners Ireland had entered the Mixed Relay with especially high hopes after the individual exploits of Natalya Coyle (silver) and Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe (gold) in Sofia, but their bid for a third medal came undone on the Fencing piste as Lanigan-O’Keeffe withdrew due to injury.
Japan (Uchida/Miguchi) were quickest off the mark with a fine performance in the pool, timing 1:55.81 for a three-point advantage over next-best Russia (Kseniia Fraltsova & Danila Glavatskikh) in 1:57.21 with favourites Ireland (Coyle/Lanigan-O’Keeffe) in 1:58.38.
The Czech Republic (Pribylova/Kuf) performed superbly on the piste with 29 victories in the Ranking Round and another two points accured in the Bonus Round.
Korea (Kim/Seo) were not far behind with 28 victories while Belarus (Prasiantsova/Radziuk) managed 26.
The Czech Republic (Pribylova/Kuf) protected their overall lead with a solid performance for 284 points from the Riding discipline, seven fewer than top performers Mexico (Tamara Vega & Alvaro Sandoval) and host nation Bulgaria (Presiyana Disheva & Todor Mihalev).
Japan (Uchida/Miguchi) also stayed in touch with a score of 289, the same as China (Zhong Xiuting & Li Shuhuan).
Immediately Kim (KOR) made up 5sec on Pribylova (BLR) at the first visit to the shooting range but the leader refused to be intimidated by the two-time world junior champion and she held her speed during the two 800m laps to hand over a strong advantage to Kuf (CZE).
Behind them, Abdelmaksoud (EGY) moved up to 3rd at the first shoot but was then overtaken by fast starter Prasiantsova (BLR) who then moved past Kim (KOR) too.
The Czech Republic (Pribylova/Kuf) led at the handover followed by Belarus (Prasiantsova/Radziuk) and Egypt (Abdelmaksoud/Elgendy) and it was only on the final running lap that there was any change to the podium order.
Aged 18, Elgendy (EGY) has proved himself to be one of the very best youth pentathletes in the world this season and Radziuk (BLR) was unable to prevent him from moving Egypt into the silver-medal position, albeit the pair raced each other right to the line.
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “Today we saw a very exciting finish after a clear winning position from the Czech Republic. It was very impressive to see the performance of Egypt to finish in 2nd place.
“The most important part of the Mixed Relay is the team spirit and what it means when you are together, man and woman competing together for the result of being on the podium.
“The Mixed Relay is one of the highlights of our movement and we are supporting this as much as we can, and we can see that the athletes really love it. We are looking forward now to the Pentathlon World Cup Final in Astana where the very best athletes will compete in the Mixed Relay.”
Andrey Kuzmanov, President of the Bulgarian Modern Pentathlon Federation, said: “I think everything was excellent about this competition, and the Mixed Relay was a perfect way to finish.
“We again showed that our organisation is perfect and I would like to congratulate everyone involved. We hope that in future years we can have more high-level competitions in our country.”
The UIPM 2018 Pentathlon World Cup Final takes place in Astana from June 21-24 and the 36 male and 36 female athletes who have qualified to take part will be announced on the UIPM website in due course.
PARISI Giuseppe Mattia
LANIGAN-O KEEFFE Arthur
photo Getty Images
Photo: Rémy Gros