UIPM 2018 Junior World Championships: Glory for Guatemala in Women’s Relay
Guatemala caused an upset on the opening day of the UIPM 2018 Junior World Championships as Sophia Hernandez and Sofia Cabrera won a brilliant gold in the Women’s Relay.
There was also a surprise silver for China as Zhong Xiuting and Gu Yewen exceeded expectations by finishing ahead of the defending champions, Aurora Tognetti and Elena Micheli of Italy, who had to settle for bronze after relinquishing a hard-earned lead.
Italy (Tognetti/Micheli) had started the Laser-Run with a 2sec lead over Guatemala (Hernandez/Cabrera) and a 9sec cushion over China (Zhong/Gu). After a thrilling battle there were three continents represented on the podium, but not in the order that many would have predicted.
For Hernandez (GUA) it was a second visit to the podium in successive years – she won bronze in the Women’s Relay with Isabel Brand at the 2017 championships in Hungary. In 2016 Charles Fernandez (GUA) became men’s world junior champion.
“I’m feeling good, very happy,” said Cabrera (GUA) after receiving her gold medal. “I managed to [convert] my training into the competition, and everything was OK.
“I’m very thankful that I was able to achieve this success with my team-mate,” added Hernandez (GUA). “Today was very tough, but we had fun, and this is what happens when you have fun.
“I’m definitely looking forward to competing [in the individual qualifying] on Thursday. I think this was just a taste of what we have been doing in training.”
Micheli (ITA) said: “It has been quite an emotional day but a good day, definitely. We had some problems with our shooting, both of us, and that’s why we started the Laser-Run 1st and ended up in 3rd. We are happy, but we could be happier.”
Away from the podium, Germany (Anna Matthes / Rebecca Langrehr) finished 4th, Russia (Adellina Ibatullina / Maria Khamppu), were 5th and France (Lisa Riff / Emma Riff) completed the top six.
There was a fast start in the pool by Russia (Ibatullina/Khamppu), although their time of 2:04.48 was almost matched by Italy (Tognetti/Micheli) as they touched the wall in 2:04.73. USA (Erica Oake / Avery Niemann) were next fastest on 2:05.80.
There was no doubt about the identity of the queens of the piste, as Guatemala (Hernandez/Cabrera) scored 19V/9D and added two additional points in the Bonus Round.
Three nations were tied on 16V/12D – Italy (Tognetti/Micheli), China (Zhong/Gu) and Korea (Kim Junju / Yoo Sumin) – while France (Riff/Riff) added three bonus points.
The overall lead held by Guatemala (Hernandez/Cabrera) came under threat in the Riding arena as Germany (Matthes/Langrehr), China (Zhong/Gu), Italy (Tognetti/Micheli) and the host nation Czech Republic (Aranka Chalupnikova / Karolina Krenkova) managed clear rounds and collected 300 points.
Guatemala (Hernandez/Cabrera) kept their composure under pressure in the final ride but the concession of 10 penalty points allowed Italy (Tognetti/Micheli) to steal a 2sec lead for the Laser-Run.
This had the potential to be a classic duel between the top two nations, but China (Zhong/Gu) started only 9sec behind Italy (Tognetti/Micheli) and 7sec behind Guatemala (Hernandez/Cabrera) and clearly had designs on gold.
As it turned out, Guatemala (Hernandez/Cabrera) and China (Zhong/Gu) became the participants of the duel, as Italy (Tognetti/Micheli) lost ground that they would never recover.
China (Zhong/Gu) ended up with the best Laser-Run time of 12:05.10 and finished only 5sec behind the champions Guatemala (Hernandez/Cabrera), who timed 12:07.70.
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “On the first day of the UIPM Junior World Championships we are so happy to see winners from three different continents on the podium. To show that we are a worldwide sport makes us so proud.
“The competition was not so easy because of the weather conditions, especially the Fencing, but we could see the great engagement of the young athletes, and I must say also that the Riding performances were quite good.
“The organisers have prepared a great venue for these championships, with everything in walking distance, and I’m looking forward to a wonderful competition in the Men’s Relay tomorrow and then the individual events and the Mixed Relay.”
The championships continue on August 1 with the Men’s Relay, followed by two days of individual qualifying ahead of the Women’s Individual Final on August 4 and Men’s Individual Final on August 5. The Mixed Relay closes the championships on August 6.