UIPM Pentathlon World Cup Cairo: Unstoppable Elgendy (EGY) has golden touch
If winning is a habit, it is a habit that Ahmed Elgendy of Egypt can’t seem to kick.
Pentathlon already knew it had a serious talent on its hands but Elgendy (EGY) confirmed today that he is not only the best up-and-coming performer in the sport, but already a contender for the top prizes at the highest level.
Aged 19 years and one day, Elgendy (EGY) won his first medal in a senior UIPM competition in the best possible style – in front of a home crowd and way out in front of the chasing pack.
The bespectacled teenager – gold medallist in 2018 at both the UIPM Youth and Junior World Championships and the Youth Olympic Games – won Men’s Individual gold at UIPM Pentathlon World Cup Cairo by 17sec from silver medallist Jan Kuf of Czech Republic, with bronze medallist Justinas Kinderis of Lithuania a further 13sec behind.
Even more impressively, his response to this success, and the accompanying adulation of his country, was measured and calm.
Elgendy (EGY) said: “I am very happy to win my first senior World Cup in Egypt, especially in Egypt – my home country.
“The crowd and the audience was always cheering for me in the Laser Run and the Fencing, and I’m very happy to be competing in Egypt.
“It’s my first season really competing in the seniors. In 2018 I participated in three World Cups and the World Cup Final but it was only to get experience for the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.
“This year I am hoping to win more than one World Cup and qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – which is my dream.
“The three major titles I won last year really motivated me to win more and achieve more, and I won the Budapest Indoor International in January.”
The consistent excellence of Elgendy (EGY) was apparent in the statistics: he was in the top 10 across all disciplines. Silver medallist Kuf (CZE) was not far behind him in this respect.
Kuf (CZE) said: “It was just perfect. I didn’t know what to expect because it’s the first competition of the year, and it went the perfect way. I had the most amazing horse and my shooting was good, surprisingly.
“To finish second was awesome. The Egyptian guy was first and everyone was cheering for him and that helped me, because I knew I wasn’t going to catch him and I was able to focus on myself.
“It’s good to know we are on the right path. I managed to beat some of the top guys today so it’s a good feeling.”
Thirty seconds and 12 years separated the gold medallist and the bronze medallist – 2013 world champion Kinderis (LTU), who showed all his experience to emerge from the pack and win a thrilling battle for 3rd place.
Kinderis (LTU) said: “I’m really delighted – Egypt is my lucky country. During the Laser Run I felt something was coming, because everything went so well. I was fighting with the Chilean and the German and I felt that it was my time, because I had saved a little bit of power.
“It’s just the beginning of the season but maybe it’s a good sign. Actually I think I have almost enough points to qualify for the World Cup Final so now I don’t have to push.”
Immediately Elgendy (EGY) showed his appetite for success in front of the home support, swimming second-fastest in a time of 2min 02.42sec. Only Myles Pillage of Great Britain went faster, with a scorching 2:00.36.
Gustav Gustenau of Austria, who won silver behind Elgendy (EGY) at the UIPM 2018 Junior World Championships, was third-quickest in a time of 2:02.47.
Experience began to tell on the Fencing piste, as Valentin Belaud of France top-scored with 24V/11D and Kinderis (LTU) managed 22V/13D, but it seemed like nothing was going to stop Elgendy (EGY) in front of his friends and family and growing army of fans.
The teenager scored 23V/12D in the Ranking Round and added two points in the Bonus Round to be the last man standing on the showpiece piste.
France rightly had high hopes for a medal in Cairo, having enjoyed a gold/silver double 12 months ago, and Belaud (FRA) took the overall lead into the Riding arena.
Unfortunately for the 2016 world champion, his challenge came unstuck on horseback as he incurred 48 penalty points – and he wasn’t the only French star to struggle. World No.2 Valentin Prades (FRA) fared even worse with 71 penalties leaving him way off the pace.
Kuf (CZE) took full advantage with a clean round, matched only by Luis Shivel of Spain and Esteban Bustos of Chile, who vaulted himself into 4th place overall. Elgendy (EGY), dislodged only one obstacle for a score of 293, greeted by roars of excitement in the stands, that gave him a 22sec lead in the Laser Run.
Having come this far, it seemed unlikely that Elgendy (EGY) would succumb to the pressure of being isolated in the lead. He has become accustomed to being out in front. But the way he controlled his nerves was exceptional, with a series of sub-10sec shoots allowing him to keep his distance from Kuf (CZE), who gained only 5sec during the course of the four laps.
Behind them, all the drama surrounded the battle for bronze. As Thomas Toolis (GBR) faltered, Patrick Dogue of Germany was the first to take the initiative, but Bustos (CHI) refused to be left behind and soon Marvin Dogue (GER) joined his elder brother in the mix.
Any of these athletes could have won a deserved medal if not for the stamina and conviction of Kinderis (LTU), who timed his attack perfectly, hunting down Marvin Dogue (GER) on the final lap and keeping just enough in the tank to hold off Bustos (CHI) in the final straight.
The Dogue brothers were 5th and 6th, while Belaud (FRA) bounced back strongly for 7th place, one ahead of Alexander Lifanov of Russia.
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “Today in the first men’s final of the 2019 season we saw an Egyptian festival. One day after his birthday, our winner gave himself the perfect present.
“To see our champion from the Youth Olympic Games securing first place in this senior competition is the perfect result for the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation, but also for UIPM.
“Another big result was the 4th place for the athlete from Chile, who gave a great performance today.
“We saw two athletes who won medals at the UIPM 2018 Pentathlon World Championships in the middle places [Prades (FRA) and Pavlo Tymoshchenko of Ukraine]. Our athletes are performing at such a high level that if you make a small mistake or miss something, you are already off the top.
“We have a big number of athletes who can be on the podium and we all had an exciting day and we are all looking forward to tomorrow.
“The Mixed Relay is a very important competition, as we know that this team event is a special goal for the future. We try to underline the strength of this event and we will concentrate on it throughout the season as we celebrate 125 years of the international Olympic movement.”
Watch and follow
The Platinum Club is hosting Pentathlon World Cup Cairo, which concludes on Sunday, March 3 with the Mixed Relay.