GB women take team gold
The British team are celebrating a stunning day at the Modern Pentathlon World Championships today (Saturday) with the women wining team gold and Nick Woodbridge taking individual silver in the men’s competition.
The trio of Kate French, Samantha Murray and Mhairi Spence started an outstanding day in Chinese Taipei by successfully defending the title won by Murray, Spence and Heather Fell in Rome last year.
And double Olympian Woodbridge, ranked 22 in the world, rounded off the day by winning Britain’s first men’s individual medal at a World Championships for 20 years, following Richard Phelps’ gold in 1993. The last British men’s World Championships medal of any kind was a team silver the following year.
There were also strong performances by two younger athletes, with Kate French 10th in the women’s individual competition and Jamie Cooke fifth in the men’s.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but it feels good,” said Woodbridge, whose season has been hampered by injury – his previous best performance of the year had been a 16th place at the Rio World Cup in March.
“I’ve had a difficult year so it’s nice to finish on a high,” he added. “I’ve had a couple of injuries that have prevented me getting the results I wanted and I think I needed this today. Winning silver at the World Championships is by far my best result.”
“I feel like I’ve worked hard for this for so many years, but I’ve just missed out for different reasons in the past,” said Woodbridge.
“The shooting was really important today and I knew if I nailed that I would be in with a chance. I was in the zone in the shooting today and I only missed two shots.
“I worked as hard as I could to catch up with Kinderis at the end, but I know he’s one of the best runners,” he added.
Woodbridge’s previous best career performances include gold at the 2004 World Youth A Championships and bronze at the 2011 World Cup Final in London.
He was only confirmed for the team for Kaohsiung just over two weeks ago after overcoming health problems.
Jan Bartu, Pentathlon GB Performance Director, said: “What a day! It’s been a really tough competition for the girls, but they proved they’re the best team in the world by winning the World Championships team tittle in consecutive years and the Europeans this year.
“Kate French deserves recognition. She has worked hard in her first full senior year, a year in which she also graduated from the University of Bath, so finishing in the top-10 at this level is a fantastic achievement and is very promising to for the future.
“Ahead of the championships I was looking for a couple of top-10 finishes, so to have three top-10 finishes, a team gold and an individual silver already says everything,” he added.
“A men’s individual medal has been 20 years in the waiting, so what Nick has done today is fantastic. I should say thanks to the English Institute of Sport support team who helped to get him here,” he added. “Both of the British boys did well today, they really smashed it.”
The GB women started their day with the riding, having completed the fencing and swimming yesterday (Friday) – their final was rearranged to run over two days because of the impact of Typhoon Trami on the host city of Kaohsiung.
French ended the competition as the highest placed Brit in 10th, with Samantha Murray 14th and Freyja Prentice 15th and Mhairi Spence 17th.
The performances by French, Murray and Spence were enough for the British women’s team to secure back to back team golds.
And Woodbridge rounded off the day for the British team with an impressive and historic individual silver medal.
Joint seventh after the fencing with 21 wins from 35 bouts, he climbed to second place with the second fastest swim of the day – a time of 2:00.62 earning 1356 pentathlon points.
He dropped just 40 points from the maximum 1200 in the riding arena to go into the run/shoot in joint third place, nine seconds behind Russia’s Alexander Lesun and five behind Lithuania’s Justinas Kinderis.
Kinderis went into the lead and it was then Woodbridge’s turn to overtake world number three and defending world champion Lesun – a feat he achieved in the fourth and final shooting phase.
Woodbridge shot with composure throughout – he only needed two extra shots to hit the 20 targets on four visits to the shooting range and coolly hit the required five targets in his final shoot with five shots in just 12.68 seconds to leave the range in second place.
He looked comfortable on the final 800m run, crossing the finishing line five seconds behind Kinderis and four clear of Lesun.
Team-mate Jamie Cooke also produced a strong performance. Down in 25th after the fence, he set the fastest swim time of the day with a time of 1:57.53 to climb to 12th place overall. A solid ride – he also added 1160 points to his tally in the riding area – saw him go into the run/shoot ranked 10th and 36 seconds off the lead.
Cooke, fresh from his World Cup gold in Budapest three months ago, eased his way through the field to come home in fifth – the highest World Championship placing of his career to date. He was just 15 seconds behind the gold medallist.
Tomorrow (Sunday) Joe Evans and Samantha Murray represent GB in the mixed team relay.
The British team train at the Pentathlon GB high performance centre at the University of Bath.
Women’s final positions
Gold: Laura Asadauskaite (LTU) – 5312 points
Silver: Yana Marques (BRA) – 5292 points
Bronze: Donata Rimsaite (RUS) – 5284 points
10th: Kate French (GBR) – 5156 points
14th Samantha Murray (GBR) – 5124 points
15th: Freyja Prentice (GBR) – 5112 points
17th: Mhairi Spence (GBR) – 5088 points
1st: Great Britain (Samantha Murray, Mhairi Spence & Kate French) – 15368 points
2nd: China (Chen Qian, Zhang Xiaonan & Liang Wanxia) – 15236 points
3rd: Ukraine (Ganna Buriak, Anastasiya Spas & Victoria Tereshuk) – 15020 points
Men’s final positions
Gold: Justinas Kinderis (LTU) – 5824 points
Silver: Nick Woodbridge (GBR) – 5804 points
Bronze: Alexander Lesun (RUS) – 5788 points
5th: Jamie Cook (GBR) – 5764 points
Gold: France - 17256
Silver: Russia - 17088
Bronze: Korea - 16620
6th: Great Britain (Jamie Cooke, Sam Weale & Nick Woodbridge) - 15904