UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Cup Budapest: Great Britain double gold tally in Mixed Relay
- Glory for Green and Choong (GBR) after needle battle with host nation
- Hungary (Simon/Szep) settle for silver after intriguing Laser Run
- Korea (Kim/Lee) open account for season with bronze
Great Britain claimed their second gold medal of UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Cup Budapest as Olivia Green and Joseph Choong held their nerve to win an intriguing Mixed Relay.
The British duo found themselves locked in an even duel with Sarolta Simon and Balazs Szep of the host nation, Hungary. It wasn’t until the last 300 metres of the final lap of Laser Run that world No.1 Choong (GBR) pulled away from Szep (HUN) to seal the victory.
Great Britain’s gold medal followed the gold and silver won by Kate French (GBR) and Joanna Muir (GBR) respectively in the Women’s Final, while for Hungary it was a satisfying first medal of the championships. Korea also opened their tally for the season with a bronze medal secured by Sunwoo Kim and Lee Jihun.
Great Britain (Green/Choong) started as they meant to go on with the fastest swim of the morning. Their time of 1:52.75 was more than 1sec faster than Ireland (Sive Brassil & Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe) who recorded 1:53.94 while Japan (Natsumi Takamiya & Sho Onishi) were third-fastest with 1:54.81.
The Fencing Ranking Round saw a new contender emerge in the form of Guatemala, as Sofia Cabrera and Jorge Imeri notched 250 points with a tally of 18V/8D.
Hungary (Simon/Szep) also stepped up their medal hunt with 16V/10D, complemented with two points added in the Bonus Round, while Mexico (Mayan Oliver & Alvaro Sandoval) also came into contention with 15V/11D.
Guatemala (Cabrera/Imeri) saw their challenge fade on horseback, where they picked up 58 penalty points, while Hungary (Simon/Szep) and Great Britain (Green/Choong) put themselves in pole position with scores of 286 and 287 respectively.
The outcome was that Hungary (Simon/Szep) would start the Laser Run with the slimmest possible advantage (1sec) over Great Britain (Green/Choong), with Korea (Kim/Lee) apparently out of gold-medal contention 32sec adrift of the top two.
As expected, the Laser Run was a two-horse race – but what a race. Green (GBR) and Simon (HUN) stayed within 5sec of each other throughout their two circuits, with Green (GBR) pulling away slightly at the end to give Choong (GBR) a little breathing space.
The men’s world No.1 managed the situation expertly, refusing to lose his cool even when Szep (HUN) cut the gap almost to nothing at the shooting range. They played cat and mouse on the final lap but Szep (HUN) didn’t have enough to keep pace with Choong (GBR), who confidently moved ahead in the final stages to win by 4sec.
Neither Kim (KOR) nor Lee (KOR) was ever threatened in 3rd place, leaving the battle for 4th to take centre stage. It was finally won by Mexico (Oliver/Sandoval), narrowly ahead of Guatemala (Cabrera/Imeri) with Hungary’s second team (Rita Erdos & Mark Mano Gyurka) completing the top six.
Choong (GBR) said: “I had some things to work out in my mind after the Men's Final, especially in Fencing. Today wasn't perfect but it was a good step in the right direction.
“I knew on the last lap that I had a good sprint finish, and I was actually willing to let [Szep] take the pace, but he didn't overtake me and I knew I would have enough left for the home straight."
Celebrating her first senior UIPM medal, Green (GBR) said: “It feels great. We've been training hard for the past few months and it's starting to pay off and I'm very excited."
Asked about the difference in standard from junior to senior level, she said: "It's mad - especially the Fencing, which is on another level. And in the Laser Run you just can't afford to miss a shot. I used to be able to catch people with my run but not at this level."
Silver medallist Simon (HUN) said: “We were able to race in our home country and we are very happy about that.
“We were 2nd in Fencing, which was a very good result for us and very important. Also, Riding was very difficult but we were able to make it and the silver medal is a good result for us."
Bronze medallist Kim (KOR) said: “We trained hard for this and I hope we can continue at the next competition to improve from 3rd to 2nd or 1st position."
Her team-mate Lee (KOR) added: “I'm very happy with the 3rd position. Last season was a very long time ago but now we have the Olympic Games coming and we will try to do well at the next competition."
UIPM President’s reaction
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “After two very successful individual finals, 14 teams competed at a very high level today in the Mixed Relay and there was an exciting finish between Hungary and Great Britain.
“We have to say that the Mixed Relay deserves to be on the Olympic programme in future, and you can see how much the athletes enjoy the gender equality, therefore I say thank you to all the nations still supporting the Mixed Relay.
“The high level of organisation, as stated in recent days, it underlines that we are in Hungary – one of the strongest pillars in our movement. And thanks again for the high performance of the athletes – good luck for the other Pentathlon World Cups coming in Sofia and later for the Pentathlon World Cup Final.
“I underline that the Mixed Relay is a format we need to support so that it can be in the future programme of the Olympic Games.”
Watch and follow
The next competition on the UIPM 2021 calendar is UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Cup Sofia (I), which takes place from April 7-11. Live streaming will be available on UIPM TV, while results of all competitions are available at the UIPM website and the ‘UIPM Central’ app.
GYURKA Mark Mano