Fantastic French starts season with silver medal at World Cup 1
Kate French got her 2017 season off to a fantastic start with a silver medal at the first World Cup of the year in Los Angeles overnight. Kate was well placed throughout the day before climbing from 7th to 2nd in the laser-run to claim the second World Cup medal of her career, a result that sees her move into the top 10 of the official World Rankings. Pentathlon GB’s three other Women’s finalists – Jess Varley, Samantha Murray and Francesca Summers – finished 18th, 22nd and 36th respectively in California on an exciting day of action at the opening World Cup of the year.
Kate was naturally delighted with her performance, commenting “I’m really happy to start my season with a medal! I was particularly pleased with my fencing which put me in a good position to challenge and although I was a little disappointed with my ride I managed to shoot well and move up the field in the laser run.
“The last lap – when there were three of us going for two medals – was really exciting and I’m so happy that I managed to get the silver medal.”
The new World number 9 concluded “World Cups are always hard events with strong fields and today was no different with Lena [Schoneborn, World number 1], Sarolta [Kovacs, 2016 World Champion] and many other top athletes competing, so to finish on the podium and get my best ever World Cup result is a great feeling.”
Summary of the Day
The Women’s final started in the pool where all four British athletes improved on their qualifying times to get their days off to a good start. London 2012 silver medallist Sam showed her renowned prowess in the swim with a time of 2:13.57, five seconds ahead of Kate’s 2:18.65. 21 year-old Frankie recorded a time of 2:24.43 with Jess a second further back in a time of 2:25.46.
The fencing ranking round, where each finalist faces everyone else, was where Kate moved into medal contention as a strong second half saw her finish the discipline standings in 5th with 21 victories and just 12 defeats from her 35 bouts. Dorking’s Francesca was the next best placed Brit with 14 victories and 19 defeats, 1 victory ahead of Clitheroe’s Sam. On her World Cup debut, Fotheringhay’s Jess secured 11 victories and 24 defeats.
In the fencing bonus round, 21 year-old Jess secured one victory to gain an extra point before Sam went on a 4 bout winning streak to secure 4 extra points. Former North Kent MPC duo Frankie and Kate failed to pick up any extra points but the day’s drama was only just beginning with Frankie awarded a black card. Concerns over a recurrence of her knee injury sustained last year meant the youngster fenced passively in the bonus round with the officials deciding this was worthy of a black card; resulting in disqualification from the competition.
It meant 25 year-old Kate headed the British charge in 5th after two disciplines with Sam 20th and Jess 32nd.
University of Bath student Jess was the first Brit to ride, producing an assured display to pick up 293 points on her allocated horse Lacey, a horse that had provided difficulties for her two riders in the Men’s final. A refusal for Sam led to time penalties and meant the 27 year-old secured 258 points before more confusion during Kate’s round. The former Pony Club athlete knocked down 2 poles but was also given 16 time faults. An appeal was lodged by the Pentathlon GB team and with video footage reviewed, Kate was awarded an additional 15 points having only gone 1 second over the allocated time.
It meant she began the concluding laser-run in 7th with Sam 22nd and Jess 23rd. Gravesend’s Kate picked up positions throughout the 3200m course, exiting the range for the fourth and final time alongside Japan’s Natsumi Tomonaga and Russia’s Ekaterina Khuraskina in a battle for 2nd position. Tomonaga, leader at the start of the laser-run, was dropped with around 300m remaining of the final lap before Kate pulled away from Khuraskina in the final 50m to secure silver behind Germany’s Lena Schoneborn thanks to the second quickest laser-run time of the day.
Jess also finished strongly with some impressive shooting and excellent running lifting her up to 18th place at the finish whilst Sam maintained the 22nd position she held at the beginning of the laser-run.
Pentathlon GB’s Performance Director Jan Bartu was naturally delighted with Kate’s performance, explaining “I’m very happy with the outcome at the end of a crazy day. It’s an extremely well deserved medal for Kate and I hope this serves as encouragement to our entire pathway programme as we start the route to Tokyo.”
Tonight (Sunday 26th February) sees the Mixed Relay taking place in Los Angeles with Myles Pillage and Jess Varley competing for Pentathlon GB. Both athletes are making their World Cup debuts and with Jess competing in the individual women’s final today, Jan commented “Jess had a good day for somebody in their first World Cup final. She struggled in the second half of the fencing but bounced back really well and finished the competition strongly. It’s a very good start to her World Cup career.”