UIPM 2021 Pentathlon and Laser Run World Championships: Prokopenko (BLR) becomes double world champion
- Veteran scorches through field to repeat 2018 success and secure Olympic quota place
- Medallists Clouvel (FRA) and Gulyas (HUN) also earn quota places for Tokyo 2020
- Laser Run glory for Egypt, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland and USA
Belarus have equalled an all-time record by winning three consecutive women’s world Modern Pentathlon titles thanks to a remarkable victory by Anastasiya Prokopenko.
The 35-year-old Prokopenko (BLR) repeated her 2018 triumph by scorching through the Laser Run field to win Women’s Individual gold at the UIPM 2021 Pentathlon and Laser Run World Championships, picking up where her team-mate Volha Silkina left off in 2019 before the fallow year of 2020.
It is the first time since Hungary achieved it in 2004 that one country has claimed the title three times in succession. Any disappointment felt in Hungary about losing this record would have been offset by their pride in Michelle Gulyas (HUN), whose bronze medal secured a quota place for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Elodie Clouvel of France also had cause to celebrate tonight, having battled her way to a silver medal that gives her an opportunity to be in Tokyo (JPN) and aim to repeat her podium performance from Rio 2016.
But where does the result leave Prokopenko (BLR)? Winning the 2021 world title means she also claimed a quota place for the Games, but Silkina (BLR) and Iryna Prasiantsova (BLR) had already done the same and now the selectors will have to choose two of three of their star women to compete on the highest stage.
The trio were back together on the podium in Cairo (EGY) wearing a team bronze medal, alongside team gold medallists Germany (Annika Schleu, Rebecca Langrehr and Janine Kohlmann) and silver medallists Hungary (Gulyas, Tamara Alekszejev and Blanka Guzi).
It was an intoxicating competition, filled with intrigue from start to finish and encapsulated by the brilliant running and shooting of Prokopenko (BLR), who overtook 15 rivals and made light of a 32sec deficit to stand once more on top of the world.
Clouvel (FRA) and Gulyas (HUN) led for most of the competition and had a fascinating battle for silver and bronze, interrupted at times by 2018 silver medallist Schleu (GER) who finally had to settle for 4th. Behind her was the 2019 silver medallist, Elena Micheli of Italy, who was followed across the line by Langrehr (GER), Tamara Vega of Mexico and Iryna Khokhlova of Ukraine.
When the dust settles, it will become clear how this compelling race – shorn of the Great Britain team who had to stay at home due to Government travel advice – will affect the UIPM Olympic World Ranking List in terms of which other athletes have earned their countries a place at the Games.
Prokopenko (BLR) said: “It's a very good feeling. A happy day. I had a very good fence and I really believed.
"I've had a very good year, finishing in the top 10 in all World Cups. My Laser Run was very good today and I want to thank everyone! It's my life, my heart ... my whole life."
Clouvel (FRA) said: “I'm very happy - it's an amazing day because this season for me has been difficult. I had problems and injuries, and now everything is OK finally.
"My day was very good and I want to thank all the public who support me, as well as my coach, my team and all people.
"This is very important for me and I am smiling, and I am focused now for the Olympic Games. I'm qualified for Tokyo - yes!
"Today my best discipline was Swimming, I had a good time, but Riding was difficult because my horse was very fast and it was hot.
"Laser Run was very good for me and I'm just so happy - thank you. I want to thank my coach and my darling, Valentin Belaud, who competes tomorrow, and all my team. The support of my fans and my partner are very important to my performance."
Gulyas (HUN) said: “I feel amazing. It's true that before Laser Run I was in 1st place, but there are so many fast athletes who are so good at Laser Run. I can't even say how I feel.
"I was also 3rd in the World Cup Final and it's been a great season and the future is bright!
"Since I started Modern Pentathlon, my biggest dream has been to make it to the Olympic Games in Tokyo and it's so amazing. It's making my dream come true and I want to thank my family, my coaches - so many people who are supporting me.
"My Fencing yesterday was good and today I was satisfied with my Swimming because I got a personal best. I was close to my best in other disciplines. It was a really difficult day but I'm really happy with the result."
Knowing that she had to perform well in this competition to qualify for Tokyo 2020, Clouvel (FRA) immediately showed her intent by defeating Gulnaz Gubaydullina (RMPF) in a thrilling 200m duel. The Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist timed 2:09.48, with the 2017 world champion touching in 2:10.35 and Alice Sotero (ITA) following in 2:11.42.
The Fencing Ranking Round was held the previous evening and Prokopenko (BLR) made her mark, scoring 24V/11D to put some daylight between herself and the chasing pack. The Beijing 2008 bronze medallist also won the final bout of the Bonus Round for two additional points.
Three fencers were tied on 22V/13D – African champion Haydy Morsy (EGY) and team-mates Gulyas and Alekszejev (HUN), with Langrehr (GER) only one victory further adrift after her world record exploits in the Bonus Round at the UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Cup Final in Szekesfehervar (HUN).
Only one athlete – Kohlmann (GER) – had an unblemished scorecard after 35 intriguing rounds on the sand in Cairo (EGY). But she was joined by seven others who only incurred time penalties.
One of them was Khokhlova (UKR), who moved into 3rd place overall, and overall leaders Gulyas (HUN) and Clouvel (FRA) each scored 286 to remain at the top end of the leaderboard. There was disappointment for London 2012 Olympic champion Laura Asadauskaite of Lithuania, whose score of 255 left the podium out of reach.
Gulyas (HUN) protected her 6sec lead over Clouvel (FRA) with great composure for most of the race, but she could do nothing about the bolter who emerged from the pack.
Showing extraordinary poise at the shooting range and appearing almost weightless on the hot sand, Prokopenko (BLR) moved serenely through the field and took the lead on the third lap – with no intention of giving it back.
Both Gulyas (HUN) and Clouvel (FRA) had endured some sticky moments on the range but just as they seemed to be flagging, the unexpected struggles of Schleu (GER) on the fourth shoot gave both a chance to reassert themselves.
Gulyas (HUN) left the range ahead of Clouvel (FRA) but the more experienced athlete had kept enough in reserve to consign the 21-year-old to bronze, albeit only by 2sec.
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “In the Women’s Individual Final today we saw the highest level of Modern Pentathlon from our ladies that we have seen for many years.
“At the end of the competition, during the Laser Run, in repeating her success from 2018 Prokopenko has shown that when you are a little bit older you can still beat all the others – based on her experience and her enormous energy.
“Very special congratulations to her, but also respect to all the others who have given everything linked to the team results they wanted to achieve. Congratulations to gold medallists Germany and all the teams – we have seen that the athletes are well prepared for Tokyo. We will have the best of the best athletes competing in the Olympic Games.
“We had excellent horses today – there was no handicap and everybody had exactly the same conditions. It’s so important for our sport that nobody can say that facilities, equipment and everything else is presented in a fair way.
“Tomorrow the men’s competition will be exactly the same level of excitement and therefore I hope all the spectators and media will enjoy the chance to see our athletes in their best profile.”
Laser Run World Championships
Claire Green of United States took the top prize and host nation Egypt dominated the youth categories on day one of the UIPM 2021 Laser Run World Championships.
Green (USA) enjoyed a convincing victory in the senior women’s category with team-mate Phaelon French (USA) securing silver and Pinelopi Nika of Greece earning bronze.
Anna Jurt of Switzerland, who like Green (USA) had competed in Women’s Individual Qualification two days earlier, became junior world champion after winning a much closer race with Johanna Maria Jogisu of Finland. They were joined on the podium by Arig Sarhan (EGY).
With youth athletes from Egypt making up the biggest athlete contingent of this global gathering – the first multi-national Laser Run competition since the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic – the host nation cheered their youngsters to victory in all but one of the youth categories, with Tatiana Thomatos of South Africa winning Under 13 gold.
Egypt’s gold medallists were Lyly Fathy (U9), Farida Khalil (U11), Ganah Elgindy (U15), Malak Ismail (U17) and Hanya Aboubakr (U19).
The Masters 40+ title was also won by a local athlete, Rasha Mahmoud (EGY), with Dr Barbara Oettinger of Germany prevailing in Masters 50+.
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “The first day of the UIPM Laser Run World Championships saw female athletes competing in all different age categories, and the facility they have prepared here as a permanent facility for the future gives all Laser Run athletes a great base for the competition.
“We had a big number, more than 600 athletes, competing in these championships and it was not easy to compete on this course – like a cross-country – and in the heat. In such conditions it’s really a special moment for everybody and I wish the male athletes the same experience tomorrow.
“After a long time training, with no competitions in 2020, this was their first time back at the World Championships and that means a lot. Their motivation has never been taken away and Laser Run, our urban sport, has a great future. We can see this in how the athletes in many nations are becoming stronger and stronger.”
The UIPM Laser Run World Championships, which was initiated in 2015 in Perpignan (FRA), is being incorporated into the UIPM Pentathlon World Championships for the second time after the debut of the combined competition in Budapest (HUN) in 2019.
Watch and follow
The Individual Finals and Mixed Relay at the UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Championships are being televised live or ‘as live’ around the world – find out how to watch the action in your country.
As of March 15, 2021, the majority of Modern Pentathlon content on UIPM TV (UIPMTV.org) became available only to subscribers. Live coverage of the Laser Run in each competition – together with highlights from earlier in the day – remains free to view.
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UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Championships
(* live stream on UIPM TV)
June 13: Men’s Final*
June 14: Mixed Relay*
UIPM 2021 Laser Run World Championships
June 13: Men’s Individual
June 14: Mixed Relays