For the young
Egypt came out victorious with a fistful of medals at the Great Britain Pentathlon Youth International, Nashwa Abdel- Tawab reports. Seventy-five athletes under 18 participated in Millfield representing 13 countries: Egypt, England, France, Lithuania, Switzerland, Turkey, Greece, Sweden, Latvia, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Portugal. The championship is the first international outdoor pentathlon event this season and qualifies the contestants for the world championships and the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
Egypt won the gold medal in the boys' individual and team event and the silver in the relay whereas the girls took the silver medal in the team and relay events.
Yasser Hefni won first place in the individual event, his best performances being in swimming and running. Hefni came second in both disciplines. Second and third place were taken by two Frenchmen. The youngest pentathlete on the Egyptian team, Mustafa Nofal, came fourth while elder brother Ibrahim came sixth. Mustafa's best discipline was fencing in which he came first.
In the team event, the three Egyptian musketeers garnered first place. France came second and Britain third. In the relay, France finished first and Egypt second.
The girls did not do as well as their male counterparts in the individual competition. Yasmine Khaled came sixth, Radwa Mahmoud seventh and Reem El-Sayed ninth. In the team and relay events they came second.
Youth competitors earned points for their performances in four of the five disciplines: shooting, fencing, swimming, and cross- country running (riding is out of youth competitions. For youths, the event is called a tetrathlon). A points system for each event is based on a standard performance earning 1,000 points. The winner is the athlete who has accumulated the most points after the four events and crosses the finish line first.
The pentathlon's current one- day format (7am to 7pm) starts with firing 20 air pistol shots, fencing every other competitor with epees for one hit within a time limit of one minute, swimming 200m in a free-style race, riding unfamiliar horses over show-jumping obstacles of up to 120cm in height and 150cm in spread, including one double and one triple, and, finally, running 3,000m over a cross- country or road course.
The modern pentathlon was the idea of Pierre de Coubertin and is the only sport created solely for the Olympic Games. Included in every Olympic Games since 1912, it was designed to capture the true spirit and essence of the games, to promote the ideal of the complete and well-rounded athletic person that De Coubertin had in mind when he revived the Olympic Games.
The modern pentathlon is considered a complete sport. Swimming and running are the basic disciplines; shooting requires stress control and precise technique; fencing needs adaptability and intelligence and riding a horse, sometimes untried, requires a mix of adaptability, self-control and courage.
Meanwhile, today and tomorrow, the Egyptian national pentathlon championship for all ages will take place in Shams Club.