UIPM 2022 Pentathlon World Championships: Team spirit propels Korea to Mixed Relay gold
- Exceptional Fencing leads Kim & Jun (KOR) to world title
- Choong & Varley (GBR) come from behind to claim silver
- Ozyuksel (TUR) claims second bronze of week alongside Unal (TUR)
Sunwoo Kim and Woongtae Jun of Korea became Mixed Relay world champions on the final day of the UIPM 2022 Pentathlon World Championships.
Korea (Kim/Jun) dominated proceedings after an exceptional Fencing performance, enabling Jun (KOR) to finish a prolific 2022 season with a second relay gold medal of the week and Kim (KOR) to go home with a haul of gold and double bronze.
The stars came out for a 19-team Mixed Relay, and the silver medal was clutched by Jessica Varley & Joseph Choong of Great Britain after an intriguing tussle with bronze medallists Ilke Ozyuksel & Bugra Unal of Turkey.
Behind them, Elodie Clouvel & Christopher Patte fought hard to claim 4th place for France, with Tamara Vega & Emiliano Hernandez of Mexico and Blanka Guzi & Richard Bereczki of Hungary completing the top six on the final day of the elite Modern Pentathlon season.
Although the standard was high, only two teams finished Riding with an unblemished scorecard while four saw their medal hopes come to an end.
The 300 scorers were Korea (Kim/Jun) and Maria Bravo & Esteban Bustos of Chile, and while eight duos managed to escape with just a single penalty, Great Britain (Varley/Choong) dislodged two obstacles to give their rivals for gold some early breathing space.
A masterclass by Korea (Kim/Jun) simply blew the competition away. Having already won bronze in the Women’s Relay and gold in the Men’s Relay, Asia’s leading pentathlon team was brimming with confidence and they racked up an impressive 27 victories from 36 bouts, before adding four points in final match-up of the Bonus Round.
The field was left scrambling to stay in touch, and surprisingly it was Turkey (Ozyuksel/Unal) who got closest to the top team, scoring 21V/15D. One victory further behind were France (Clouvel/Patte), Great Britain (Varley/Choong), Natalia Dominiak & Daniel Lawrynowicz of Poland, Isabela Abreu & Danilo Fagundes of Brazil and Olha Klunnikova & Maksym Aharushev of Ukraine.
The biggest waves in the pool were generated by France (Clouvel/Patte), whose time of 1min 56.81sec gave them 317 points and narrowly eclipsed Great Britain (Varley/Choong, 1:57.11) and Hungary (Guzi/Bereczki, 1:58.16). But the relentless juggernaut of Korea (Kim/Jun) was not about to stop as they also managed 314 points with 1:58.25.
With a huge lead, there was no need for any nerves on the part of Korea (Kim/Jun) and they duly delivered gold with a clean and professional Laser Run.
All the tension was behind them, right from the start when world No.5 Ozyuksel (TUR) set off with world No.4 Varley (GBR) just a couple of seconds behind her. Women’s Individual bronze medallist Ozyuksel (TUR) looked to have edged the duel after a solid start, but Varley (GBR) eventually caught up and they handed over to male team-mates at the same moment.
That left Unal (TUR) with the intimidating task of trying to beat the reigning Olympic and world champion, and after the first shoot it became clear that Choong (GBR) was not going to take his foot off the pedal after his individual heroics 24 hours before.
In the end the gap between silver and bronze was 4sec, and the fastest Laser Run of the day was 12min 23sec by Hungary (Guzi/Bereczki) with Great Britain (Varley/Choong) also catching the eye with 12:29.
Gold medallist Kim (KOR) said: “Today was really good – we had a really good ranking in Fencing, Riding, Swimming and Laser Run. We’re very happy.”
Jun (KOR) added: “The 2022 season has been great, but in this World Championships my individual competition was not so good but I have two gold medals from Men’s Relay so I’m very happy, and looking forward to preparing for next season.”
Silver medallist Varley (GBR) said: “We’re really pleased to put it all together today. We were a little bit tired and it was a slow start in the Fencing especially. But we’re really pleased to come out and get a medal.
“I really enjoyed that race today. I was pleased to have a slightly faster time [than Ozyuksel] after starting behind her. Her running has improved so much this season, and I think I maybe just shot a little better. It was really fun.”
Choong (GBR) added: “I’m pleased that we’ve done it and pleased that it’s done now, as well. As Jess said, this morning I think I almost fell asleep when we had a break in the Fencing. But after the break between the Ranking Round and the rest of it, I switched on a little bit and really enjoyed it.”
Bronze medallist Ozyuksel (TUR) said: “I’m really happy and so is my team-mate, because this competition was very hard with 19 countries and top competitors.
“We came 2nd in the Fencing but still it wasn’t enough for the silver medal. We took bronze and we are really happy because this is World Championships, the hardest competition. And today was so hard for me because I’ve been competing for five days – and now I’m dying.”
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “Once again today we saw the unique team spirit of the Mixed Relay, which creates very special moments for female and male athletes competing together. We had 19 competing teams and once again the nations on the podium demonstrates that Modern Pentathlon is a global sport.
“A very special thanks to our hosts in the Arab Academy, which already hosted the UIPM 2021 Junior and Youth World Championships here in Alexandria. They offered an excellent infrastructure with good facilities, accommodation and food and wonderful venue dressing in this very green university environment.
“Thanks again to the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation and congratulations to everything that President Sharif Elerian, also UIPM Vice President, has achieved with his team. We never forget the support of Egypt’s Minister for Sport, Dr Ashraf Soubhy, who was present here along with Dr Hassan Moustafa, President of the International Handball Federation and Honorary President of the Egyptian Olympic Committee.
“I admire the way athletes and coaches prepared so well in adapting to the new format and performed at a high level this season. Now we are all looking forward to the Olympic qualification season 2023 and Olympic Games season of 2024.
“Also this season we had a successful first New Pentathlon Discipline Test Event in Ankara, and in a few days we will be in Manila where the test will be organised in a different way with many Asian nations taking part.
“After that, I can assure athletes in all age categories that they will have an opportunity to sample Obstacle Discipline, which we are testing very thoroughly because of the potential it has to create a less costly and complex Modern Pentathlon that is more accessible to the whole world.”
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