Wednesday,22 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1288, (24 - 30 March 2016)
Wednesday,22 November, 2017
Issue 1288, (24 - 30 March 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Success in Rio

Egypt pentathletes continued to shine at the modern pentathlon World Cup series, claiming two silver medals in the second round in Rio de Janeiro, reports Inas Mazhar

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Al-Ahram Weekly

This time it was Omar, the elder of the Al-Geziri brothers, who clinched a medal at World Cup II. Omar took the silver medal after brother Amr had won the gold medal at World Cup I which was held last month in Cairo.

In the mixed relay competition, the Egyptian duo of Islam Hamed and Haidy Adel had an impressive performance that awarded them a silver medal.

At Rio, Woongtae Jun of Korea continued his rise through the elite ranks by securing the men’s individual gold at the second stage of the 2016 UIPM World Cup.

The 20-year-old Woongtae is the youngest man in the top 10 of the senior world rankings and his success at this official Olympic test event closely followed his victory in the season-ending 2015 Champion of Champions in Doha, Qatar.
His emergence has been so convincing that he is now perhaps Asia’s best chance of an Olympic medal when the world’s best modern pentathletes return to Rio de Janeiro in August.

Having embarked on a highly competitive combined event in sixth place with a 25-second handicap, he showed levels of determination, composure and fitness that will certainly befit the ultimate stage if Woongtae can reproduce them later this year

“I’m so happy because, after the Champion of Champions, I promised myself that I would be better this year,” said the world’s seventh ranked athlete after his victory.

“There is a lot of time between now and August, and I will be preparing very hard in Korea for the Olympic Games.”

Modern pentathlon’s new world prodigy Woongtae had denied Omar Al-Geziri a gold medal that few would have begrudged him given how consistently he performed all week. But the Egyptian was deliriously happy with his own landmark achievement of silver, with Hungary’s Adam Marosi picking up bronze.

“It’s the first individual World Cup medal of my life, and I can’t explain how happy I am. I’m so proud of myself and my brother Amr. We have been pushing ourselves hard for 16 years in this sport and it’s paying off right now,” said Omar.

“He won the first World Cup, and now I have a silver medal. I’m very hungry for more and more – me and him.
“It’s a huge step towards getting a medal at the Olympics; I’m over the moon. But I can’t get too excited because I have to qualify and the season is very long, and we will see.”

It was Amr, gold medalist of World Cup I, who swam fastest in the morning, his time of 1:57.02 narrowly faster than James Cooke on 1:57.47 and his British compatriot Joseph Choong on 1:58.57.

At the end of a fencing bonus round dominated by the Hungarians Bence Demeter, who won six bouts to give himself six extra seconds in the combined event, and Robert Kasza, it was Russia’s Maksim Kustov who still led the standings narrowly ahead of Hungary’s Kasza and China’s Junli Guo, with Korea’s Woongtae in fifth.

Inside the Deodoro Stadium, Omar Al-Geziri, Guatemala’s Charles Fernandez, Germany’s Stefan Kollner and Hungary’s Adam Marosi were the four riders who managed a clean round.

China’s Guo Jianli was heading for a perfect round when he misjudged his approach to the last obstacle and incurred seven penalty points. The leader Kustov of Russia had a similar experience.

A score of 293 allowed the Russian to remain in a prominent position heading into the combined event, albeit conceding a four-second handicap to Omar Al-Geziri , who went out first. China’s Guo was only a further second behind the Russian Kustov, so it was destined to be a finale fraught with tension.

And so it proved, as Guo and Al-Geziri exchanged the lead in the early stages before the race developed into a four-way tussle. Al-Geziri clearly had the staying power necessary to win the event, but Woongtae showed exceptional accuracy at the shooting range to put pressure on the leader along with Marosi and Guatemala’s Fernandez.

Woongtae and Al-Geziri embarked on their final 800m almost neck and neck but the Korean made his move with around 500m to go and put a couple of seconds between them that he was never going to relinquish.

Klaus Schormann, president of UIPM, described the men’s individual final as an exciting competition. “At the end when we saw the changes from first to second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth place, always moving and changing, everybody enjoyed it so much.

“But I would also underline that the horse riding was a great show, and it showed who was really prepared and who was not. It was really an Olympic standard, with everything in harmony between athletes and horses and we saw athletes who are really well educated in riding doing everything in their capacity.

“I would say this World Cup men’s event was successful – better than yesterday on the women’s side in that they had the benefit of the weather – but we all know that for the Olympic Games we will improve some parts.

“In principle we can say it was a good test, it was successful, but we will work on some of the details in the next months so we can have a big show in the Games in August 2016,” Schormann said.

Claudia Cesarini (ITA, gold), Lena Schoeneborn (GER, silver) and Donata Rimsaite (RUS, bronze) received their medals for the women’s event.

The final act of this official Olympic test event in Rio became an intriguing tussle between Germany and Egypt in the mixed relay competition, two countries that have already stamped their mark on this year’s World Cup with medals both in Rio and before in Cairo at World Cup #1 last month.

In the end, the class of reigning individual world champion Lena Schoeneborn and her teammate Patrick Dogue allowed the Germans to comfortably prevail, with Egypt’s Haidy Morsi and Eslam Hamad holding on to silver and consigning Japan’s Natsumi Tomonaga and Tomoya Miguchi to bronze. Schoeneborn (GER), had won silver in the women’s individual two days ago.

The German duo certainly had fun from the start of the day, as they created a 25-point lead over the rest of the field in the opening two disciplines.

In the fencing ranking round, Germany’s Schoeneborn/Dogue won 30 of their 42 bouts, with each of the eight competing nations meeting each other seven times on the piste.

Swimming did not go down quite so well for the Germans, whose time of 2:02.96 was only fifth fastest. Japan’s Tomonaga/Miguchi were easily the fastest with 1:54.92, ahead of China’s Wei Danni and Su Halhang and Mexico’s Elena Nogueda and Alvaro Sandoval.

Egypt’s Morsi/Hamed kept the pressure on the leaders by winning the final bout in the fencing bonus round, and then coming out on top in the riding.

The Egyptians scored highest with 289 thanks to a single seven-point penalty and a four-point time penalty. By contrast, Schoeneborn/Dogue incurred 31 penalty points overall and this led them to concede most of their advantage heading into the combined event.

There, despite enjoying a buffer of only five seconds, Schoeneborn/Dogue reasserted themselves and never looked like being threatened.

Schormann said, “We know that many nations already went to Buenos Aires for a big competition, and that other nations went to Rome for a big competition, so only eight nations competed today but for us it’s always important to test the mixed relay format again, again, again.”

Schormann reflected on the Olympic test event with satisfaction while acknowledging that work remains to be done on fine-tuning the facilities and the organisational flow of the competition, which will take place in Deodoro Park as it did this week.

“After six days of competition in Rio, the 2016 Olympic venue for the modern pentathlon has now been fully tested by most of the world’s leading pentathletes.

“Modern pentathlon will be one of the biggest highlights of the 2016 Olympic Games, thanks to our five disciplines and thanks to the high performance of our athletes,” said Schormann.

“It will be a big surprise for many people in the media to see the big challenge of bonus fencing, and to see that our combined event is much better than it was at the London Olympics in 2012.

“We will deliver a great pentathlon stadium, knowing that only the swimming is outside of this stadium, so this test event was the right time to test the technical parts, to test all of our surroundings and equipment, and very important to find and test the right horses.

“Now we have the opportunity to make some modifications – I have discussed it with Celso Silva, the Rio 2016 competition manager, what we have in mind – and we will review the reports from this test event and then go forward maybe with some new guidelines for the Olympic Games.”

The 2016 UIPM World Cup resumes in Rome, Italy (30 March-3 April) before moving on to Kecskemet, Hungary (14-18 April) and culminating with the World Cup final in Sarasota-Bradenton, in the US (6-8 May).

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