UIPM 2019 Pentathlon Junior World Championships: Mourcia (FRA) storms back to win gold
Jean-Baptiste Mourcia won the first gold medal of the week for France and provided an unforgettable highlight of the UIPM 2019 Pentathlon Junior World Championships with a storming victory in the Men’s Individual Final.
As the Laser Run began, Mourcia (FRA) and reigning champion Ahmed Elgendy of Egypt had a lot of work to do as they started together with a deficit of 29sec on the leader. But they tore up the field, Mourcia (FRA) eventually beating Elgendy (EGY) to the line by an impressive 7sec.
Behind them, the noise of the home crowd began to pick up as another athlete came from behind to reach the podium, Lukasz Gutkowski of Poland adding individual bronze to his Men’s Relay silver from earlier in the competition.
The sensational Laser Run performances of the three medallists left their rivals with a feeling of being knocked over by a juggernaut, but Andrei Zuev of Russia stayed strong to finish 4th with Emiliano Hernández of Mexico one place further back and Kim Woocheol of Korea providing representation for a fourth continent (Europe, Africa, North America and Asia) in the top six.
Zuev (RUS) had the consolation of leading his country to team gold alongside Ivan Tarasov (9th) and Sergey Kolbasenko (28th). Silver went to Belarus – Yauheni Arol (8th), Mikita Ivarouski (17th) and Maksim Maruk (18th) – and bronze to Korea – Kim Woocheol (6th), Kim Sedong (19th) and Lee Jonghyeon (23rd).
Winning gold was a dramatic turn of events for 19-year-old Mourcia (FRA), who finished 25th in this competition in Kladno (CZE) in 2018 having been 5th in Szekesfehervar (HUN) in 2017. European Under 19 champion in 2017, he confirmed his exciting potential at senior level in 2018 when he finished 8th and 4th in the UIPM Pentathlon World Cup series in Cairo (EGY) and Kecskemet (HUN) respectively.
The prowess of Elgendy (EGY) is better known – after winning the junior world title last year he added the U19 crown and gold at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, before starting the 2019 season in the perfect style with gold at UIPM Pentathlon World Cup Cairo.
Mourcia (FRA) said: “I’m so happy – it’s unbelievable. I think it’s one of the best moments of my short life. I would like to thank everyone around me who helped me. It’s awesome.
“We have a big champion in my federation, and I hope to follow the road of world No.1 Valentin Prades, and I hope my federation are proud of me.”
Elgendy (EGY) added: “Today was very good, but my Fencing was not very good in the Ranking Round. I had some problems that left me ranked 21 in Fencing, so it was hard to catch the athletes in front of me.
“After the Swimming I was 14th and after the Riding I became 8th, so that was good. The Laser Run was good and I finished 2nd, but the French athlete was so good. My shooting was not the best but it was enough for the silver medal today.”
Gutkowski (POL) said: “It’s amazing to get a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships. I’m really happy with it. What more can I say?
“I started with a silver medal in the Men’s Relay with Oskar Paradowski and now I achieved a bronze medal in the individual and it’s really excellent.
“Next month there is the European Championships in Bath with eight qualification places for the Olympic Games. I will try to achieve a high level.”
Myles Pillage of Great Britain set a high standard with a sub-2sec swim that would not be out of place at the highest level on the senior circuit. His time of 1:58.79 brought him 313 points, three more than Vicente Lima of Argentina (2:00.23) and five more than Elgendy (EGY, 2:01.22).
Like Pillage (GBR) in the pool, one athlete stood out above all others on the piste and it was Maruk (BLR), who notched 26V/9D in the Ranking Round and added two more points in the Bonus Round.
Pillage (GBR) made sure he remained in contention with 22V/13D – the same as score as local favourite Gutkowski (POL) – but his performance was overshadowed by team-mate Oliver Murray (GBR), who scored 24V/11D.
Zuev (RUS) was the main mover in the Bonus Round, where he added five points to his overall score.
The perils of Pentathlon were ruthlessly exposed to two of the competition leaders when the action reached the Riding arena. Both Maruk (BLR) and Murray (GBR) found themselves tumbling down the leaderboard after each conceding 59 penalty points on horseback.
In contrast, there was joy for two of Maruk’s team-mates, Arol (BLR) and Mikita Harnastaeu (BLR), each of whom managed a perfect score of 300 along with Paolo Singh (FRA) and, to the delight of the home crowd, Marcel Suliga (POL).
Zuev (RUS) was one of eight athletes who dislodged just one barrier for a score of 293, while Elgendy (EGY) survived unscathed with 286 and Pillage (GBR) did just enough to claim the overall lead with 277.
Pillage (GBR) started with a 7sec lead over Zuev (RUS), with Arol (BLR) a further 6sec back, closely followed by Hernandez (MEX) and Kim Woocheol (KOR). Incredibly, none of the eventual medallists were among the first five starters.
Zuev (RUS) took control of the first half of the race, moving into the lead at the first shoot, but soon he had Mourcia (FRA) and Gutkowski (POL) for company. Mourcia (FRA) moved ahead at the second shoot and soon built a 9sec lead.
By the time they reached the third shoot, Elgendy (EGY) had overtaken Zuev (RUS) and taken possession of the silver medal position, but that wasn’t the end of the drama. Zuev (RUS) began the final lap in 2nd but was reined in first by Elgendy (EGY) and then, with the home crowd roaring him on, Gutkowski (POL).
In the final analysis, Mourcia (FRA) managed the best Laser Run time (10:45.92), ahead of Elgendy (EGY) in 10:52.64, with Bence Kardos of Hungary ranked 3rd in 10:54.33.
The success of Gutkoswki (POL) among others was watched admiringly by the legendary Janusz Peciak (POL), Montreal 1976 Olympic champion and UIPM Executive Board Member for Sport.
Peciak (POL) said: “I’m very, very happy because it was a great competition, I saw a lot of talent here and I’m also happy because the Polish athlete won a bronze medal. It was great for our country and the media.
“The level was very high and I was impressed, especially with the French boy who was fantastic. I can see that these athletes are coming through and maybe we will see some good performances at the UIPM Pentathlon World Championships in two months in Budapest.
“I think it was a great competition and overall I will give five stars.”
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann added: “Today we saw another big surprise, with the French athlete ending up on top of the podium, but it was also very important to see the host nation winning a medal and also to have Egypt on the podium and Korea in the team event.
“I think we have seen a global presentation today at the Junior World Championships and we can say that we can see that all nations are investing in the right athletes with the result that they are progressing from youth to junior to senior.
“I’m sure tomorrow in the Mixed Relay we will have another exciting competition, and I want to say that the organising committee is doing great work together with all the volunteers. A big thanks to them and also to the athletes and coaches who have some great performances to celebrate.”
WATCH AND FOLLOW
The UIPM 2019 Pentathlon Junior World Championships in Drzonkow (POL) concludes on Saturday, July 13 with 18 nations set to take part in the Mixed Relay.
Visit the UIPM website or download “UIPM Central” from your app store to keep track of live results.