A thrilling Women’s Final was settled in the final moments of the Laser Run when Joanna Muir of Great Britain held off a challenge from last year’s winner to take gold at 2020 UIPM Pentathlon World Cup Cairo.
Uliana Batashova of Russia had briefly overtaken her rival on the final lap, aiming to retain the gold medal she won in the Egyptian capital 12 months ago, but Muir (GBR) settled an incredible duel by summoning all her stamina to cross the line first. It was the 25-year-old’s first individual Pentathlon World Cup medal and her success demonstrated the importance of form: she also won gold at the Budapest Indoor International recently.
Muir was elated with her performance in Cairo, saying “It hasn’t sunk in yet, I can’t quite believe it, to be honest.” She was also quick to admit that her success wasn’t without errors, saying “I had a good fence and my swim was OK, but in the Riding my stirrup snapped halfway round and I couldn’t believe it – I thought ‘the one day when I fence well and I am going to come off my horse’. I was so relieved to get round. In the Laser Run there were lots of quick runners round about me and I tried to stick with them, and not kill myself too early. It could have been anyone’s race.”
Joanna Muir is making a strong claim for selection after Kate French (GBR) secured their country’s first of two available quota places in 2019. French did so by winning a silver medal at the 2019 European Modern Pentathlon Championships. Muir could only manage fourth that day, which meant that she would have to qualify through the world rankings. World Cups are an integral part of those rankings, so this victory should help Muir along in her pursuit for Olympic qualification.
Behind the top two, the importance of Olympic qualification ranking points was underlined by the intensity of the battle. Gulnaz Gubaydullina (RUS) came back strongly to claim bronze ahead of Ilke Ozyuksel of Turkey, who finished 4th with a typically strong Laser Run after the initial leaders, Marie Oteiza of France and Alice Sotero of Italy, became stuck on the range at the third and fourth shoots respectively. Sotero finished 5th, while Oteiza slid down to 7th. The last spot on the podium was claimed by Janine Kohlmann of Germany
In looking at performances in the individual sports themselves, the standard was quite high in Cairo. In Swimming, Gubaydullina (RUS) began yet another season by setting the pace in the pool, touching first in 2mins 10.98secs. Fencing was dominated by last year’s world champion Volha Silkina of Belarus, who demonstrated her superb poise on the piste, picking up a dominant score of 28V/7D. Marie Oteiza (FRA) excelled in the fencing bonus round, picking up four additional points, before being denied by Silkina (BLR) in the final bout. Riding saw a number of potential medal contenders fall out of contention. However, there were clean rounds and scores of 300 for six athletes including Gubaydullina (RUS). Laser Run saw a great battle with Muir ultimately taking victory.
The UIPM 2020 Pentathlon World Cup from Cairo continues tomorrow (February 29) with the Men’s Final and concludes with the Mixed Relay on Sunday (March 1). A live stream of the Men’s Final will be available on UIPM TV and YouTube, with no geographical restrictions, and on Facebook from 6pm CET. Up-to-date results of all competitions are available at the UIPM website.