Tuesday,18 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1338, (30 March - 5 April 2017)
Tuesday,18 June, 2019
Issue 1338, (30 March - 5 April 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Home didn’t help

Playing in Egypt did not push the country to the podium at the 2017 Modern Pentathlon World Cup II

Modern Pentathlon

The announcement of the retirement of Egypt’s Amr Al-Gezeiri, last year’s men’s gold medalist, only days before the Modern Pentathlon World Cup II kicked off earlier this week in Cairo, denied Egypt the chance to successfully defend the men’s title. Al-Gezeiri’s teammates, whether men or women, were definitely affected by the absence of their world-class champion. And this was evident in their performance. Also, the withdrawal of another superstar Yasser Hefni before the start of the competition also impacted Egypt’s results. Hefni is Egypt’s second best player who had won gold, silver and bronze medals in World Cup events and the Military Cup.

Egypt’s Islam Hamed narrowly missed a bronze medal as he managed a fourth place finish which also saw him appearing in the awards ceremony among the top six. The event, held at the Cairo International Stadium indoor complex, swimming pool and equestrian arena, was a huge success and saw epic performances by the world’s top players.

Pavlo Tymoshchenko of the Ukraine won the men’s individual gold after a dominant performance in the Egyptian capital. The 2015 world champion, who claimed an Olympic silver medal at Rio 2016, moved out in front during the fencing discipline and took a 22-second lead into the laser-run which he defended with ease.

Behind him, world No 2 Valentin Prades of France moved with great stealth through the field having started the laser-run in 11th place, and cruised home in second place, 12 seconds behind the champion. The real battle was for the bronze, won by Germany’s Fabian Liebig after he used his strong running prowess to pass Italy’s Matteo Cicinelli at the beginning of the final lap.

The experienced 30-year-old Tymoshchenko has now won four individual World Cup gold medals after previous successes in Rome (2015), Chengdu (2013) and Palm Springs (2011). Cicinelli set the standard in swimming in the morning with the fastest time of 2:01.36, narrowly beating Japan’s Hikaru Shimano (2:01.83).

It was in fencing, however, that the eventual champion stood up to be counted. Tymoshchenko was way ahead of his rivals with a ranking round score of 26V/8D and a points differential of 24 over second-best Russia’a Alexander Lifanov.

After two events there was strong Egyptian representation on the leader board with Sherif Rashad and Hamed flying the flag in the absence of the Olympian siblings Omar and Amr Al-Gezeiri. They both stayed in contention during the riding. The German Liebig moved into the mix with a clean round, while the Ukrainian Tymoshchenko and Frenchman Prades incurred only seven penalty points each.

Modern Pentathlon

Prades was the star performer in the laser-run as he moved serenely up to second place, while Alexander Savkin of Russia finished strongly in fourth. The other top six places went to Cicinelli and Hamed who was greeted with huge cheers from the home crowd during the awards ceremony. Fellow Egyptian Rashad finished 10th.

Kate French of Great Britain was an emphatic winner of the women’s individual gold medal. The 26-year-old, who finished sixth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, celebrated her first World Cup success only four weeks after winning silver at World Cup I in Los Angeles.

Behind the winner there were many interesting plot lines, as Turkey’s Ilke Ozyuksel  shrugged off her laser-run starting rank of 19th to storm through the field and claim silver -- Turkey’s first-ever UIPM World Cup medal -- and Alice Sotero of Italy won an epic battle with her compatriot Gloria Tocchi to secure bronze.

World champion Sarolta Kovacs of Hungary finished fifth and Julie Belhamri of France rounded up the prize winners in sixth to ensure there was some French representation on the podium — other than the name of the champion, of course. The assured nature of her victory suggested that French promises to be the latest in a long line of world-class British women pentathletes, following in the footsteps of Stephanie Cook, Kate Allenby, Heather Fell and Samantha Murray who have won Olympic medals since the women’s competition began in 2000.

“My fencing went really well and I got a massive PB [personal best] today, which gave me a head start. I’ve started to drink coffee on the morning of an event which wakes me up. But seriously, I think I was just really relaxed today. I think I’m just a more experienced athlete now. Rio gave me experience and confidence and now I’m just really enjoying it,” the Briton said of her performance.

Egypt’s Haidi Adel Morsi also set herself up for a strong performance in front of her home crowd in fencing with 23V/12D and three victories in the bonus round but unfortunately lost the last match to the eventual winner French, who had maintained her lead through the riding discipline, but not without conceding some ground.

The second edition of the World Cup series concluded on Sunday with the mixed relay team competition. For the third successive day, gold was won with something to spare as Belarus claimed the mixed relay title. Iryna Prasiantsova and Kiril Kasyanik of Bulgaria proved strongest in fencing and held on to their advantage for the rest of the day, defending a laser-run lead of 22 seconds with no significant alarm.

Behind them, Great Britain’s Joanna Muir and Myles Pillage managed to cut the deficit in half at one point, but a decisive final shoot from Bulgaria Kasyanik consigned them to silver. The battle for bronze was won by Hungary’s Tamara Alekszejev and Tamas Bence Frohlich, who devoured a 23-second difference to overtake Japan and claim bronze.

Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) President Klaus Schormann told the UIPM online after the men’s event: “We are at the beginning of the season and we could see great performances and new faces of our sport here at the World Cup II in Cairo. It also gives us a great view of the future”. UIPM is the international governing body of modern pentathlon.

“We had eight nations in the mixed relay and a young group of athletes who are very exciting. We saw that Japan almost made it again to the podium but Hungary are very strong and Great Britain and Belarus as we know are very traditional modern pentathlon countries. We have excellent new athletes coming from nations who have been investing a lot in our sport in the past, and we can see their gains now as the young generation continue their success. We have seen a very good presentation of our sport at this World Cup II in Cairo,” Schormann said.

The UIPM 2017 World Cup season resumes with World Cup III in Kecskémet, Hungary, from 5-7 May and World Cup IV in Drzonkow, Poland, from 26-28 May. The World Cup final follows in Vilnius, Lithuania, from 23-25 June.

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