Joanna Muir and Samuel Curry supplied a golden finish to a prolific weekend for Great Britain as they celebrated their fourth medal at UIPM 2019 Pentathlon World Cup Prague.
After gold in the Women’s Final for Kate French and bronze for Jessica Varley, Joseph Choong added an individual silver in the Men’s Final on Sunday, leaving expectations high for the final day.
Their team-mates duly obliged, with Muir (GBR) quickly swallowing up the lead held by Salma Abdelmaksoud of Egypt in the Laser Run to seal a perfect homecoming competition for Pentathlon GB performance director Jan Bartu, who won two Olympic pentathlon medals for his native Czechoslovakia in Montreal in 1976.
Silver went to Germany after a strong performance by Annika Schleu and Marvin Dogue, winner of bronze in an energy-sapping Men’s Final 24 hours earlier. This enabled Germany to finish the Pentathlon World Cup regular season with an impressive five medals – although Great Britain went one better with six.
Abdelmaksoud and Mohanad Shaban held on to bronze under pressure from 4th-placed Korea (Kim Sunwoo & Kim Soengjin) to give Egypt their fourth medal of the season. Russia (Kseniia Fraltsova & Viacheslav Bardyshev) finished 5th and there was a cheer for host nation Czech Republic as Eliska Pribylova and Marek Grycz came home 6th.
A clearly elated Muir (GBR) said: “It’s amazing. We were both quite disappointed with our individual performances this week, so it was so nice to have a good competition and get a bit of luck.
“We were both happy with our performances across all disciplines, and it was so worth all the hard work.”
Her team-mate Curry (GBR) added: “This is a huge vindication. I don’t think anyone was hungrier than us this week.
“I messed up in my semi-final so I was really hungry today. I think Jo would have been top six in her final if it wasn’t for a difficult ride. We are thrilled that we were be able to put this together.”
It was a tough shift for Dogue (GER) after his heroics in the Men’s Final, but he said: “We were strong in Fencing, then not so good in Riding, but in the end it was a good result.
“They told me yesterday I would be doing the Mixed Relay so I didn’t have much time to prepare, so a silver medal is fine.
“I’m very satisfied with my results from today and yesterday. I can go back with a good mood and prepare for the next competition.”
His team-mate Schleu (GER) added: “I had a late change of partner but it worked out well so we are pretty happy with silver.
“I felt pretty good in running, but my shooting was not perfect. It was a little easier for me than Marvin, because I got a rest yesterday whereas he was having a tough race and finishing in the top three. He did a good job.”
After winning bronze for Egypt alongside Salma Abdelmaksoud, Mohanad Shaban said: “It was a very good competition and a good race – this was my first senior competition so I am very happy.
“The race was very hard and the Koreans went in front of us, but we managed to finish ahead of them.”
Based on form, Japan (Ruka Takahashi & Tomoya Miguchi) did not even line up in the fastest heat but a sensational swim of 1:53.40 enabled them to take a five-point lead in the opening discipline.
Korea (Kim/Kim) were next-fastest after winning the final heat in 1:55.65 from Great Britain (Muir/Curry) in 1:55.80.
There was a welcome return to competition this weekend for Rio 2016 Olympian Felipe Nascimento of Brazil, competing alongside Priscila Oliveira. They enjoyed a share of the best result in the Fencing Ranking Round, matching the score of 24V/10D achieved by Korea (Kim/Kim).
Behind them, three nations registered 22V/12D – Germany (Schleu/Dogue), Egypt (Abdelmaksoud/Shaban) and Belarus (Katsiaryna Pasharneva & Aliaksandr Poupe) – but when it came to the Bonus Round, there was only one team in it.
With an exceptional run of form, Alessandra Frezza and Daniele Colasanti of Italy strung together eight victories including the final bout, adding 10 points to their overall score.
With a congested leaderboard, there was an opportunity for several nations to take the initiative and it was Egypt (Abdelmaksoud/Shaban) who responded best to the pressure, scoring 297 on horseback to move into the overall lead. Great Britain (Muir/Curry) in 1:55.80.
Great Britain (Muir/Curry) also fared well in the Riding, dropping just seven penalty points, while Germany (Schleu/Dogue) stayed in touch with 288, ranking fourth just behind Guatemala (Ximena Dieguez & Jorge Imeri), who scored 292.
A disappointing ride by Korea (Kim/Kim) incurred 30 penalty points and ended their hopes of gold, while the dream also faded for Italy (Frezza/Colasanti) and Brazil (Oliveira/Nascimento).
The “hunger” described by Curry (GBR) was evident throughout the Laser Run and resulted in the British duo not just winning gold but recording the fastest time of the day (10:52.00).
Abdelmaksoud (EGY) started with a composed shoot but so did Muir (GBR), and the Scottish runner took the lead within 250m of the opening lap and never looked back. Meanwhile Schleu (GER) had already overtaken Kim (KOR) and set her sights on the leaders.
At her second visit to the range, Muir (GBR) made no mistake with five unerring shots, and by the time she handed over to Curry (GBR) she did so with a 14sec cushion over Germany (Schleu/Dogue), who had eased past Egypt (Abdelmaksoud/Shaban).
The two circuits of the course undertaken by the male athletes were largely uneventful, with Curry (GBR) and Dogue (GER) maintaining their positions without alarm. Korea (Kim/Kim) briefly overtook Egypt (Abdelmaksoud/Shaban) but then slipped back again, ending their podium quest.
Another five nations slipped under the 12min mark with their times – Italy (Frezza/Colasanti), Mexico(Marian Arceo & Duilio Carrillo), Kazakhstan (Fariza Orumbekova & Vladislav Sukharev), United States(Samantha Achterberg & Tyler Evans) and Czech Republic (Barbora Ciprova & Ondrej Svechota).
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “Today in the Mixed Relay we had 18 teams and, again, the perfect conditions for pentathlon here in Prague, where we have such a strong tradition.
“All the places were very close. OK, it was a dominant victory for Great Britain and for Germany in 2nd, but the Egyptians ensured that the African continent was on the podium and also the 4th place was won by an Asian nation thanks to Korea. This is very important for us.
“The atmosphere between the athletes, to see how they really enjoy this Mixed Relay competition, is really a dominant part of our movement and we will do everything in the world now to promote this event, which has gender equality and team spirit at its heart.
“I am very thankful for the nations who are preparing their athletes for the Mixed Relay, and now we are looking forward to the UIPM 2019 Pentathlon World Cup Final and Olympic Test Event in Tokyo, where we will not only have individual finals but also a Mixed Relay, which will be a big highlight of our season.
“I wish all the athletes good health and look forward to seeing them in Tokyo in June.”
China International Women’s Match Race
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Tang Xijing (CHN) and bronze medallist Angelina Melnikova (RUS).
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China International Women’s Match Race