Team USA Women Take on the World
Individual competition at the UIPM 2023 Pentathlon and Laser Run World Championships got underway today with 78 competitors taking part in Women’s Qualification.
It was current World No.1 Alice Sotero of Italy who laid down the earliest marker as she finished top of the pile in Group A, a blistering swim of 2:09.40 the highlight of her day. Germany’s Rebecca Langrehr wasn’t too far behind and Jessica Varley of Great Britain enjoyed her run on home soil to finish third. With the top 12 from each of the three groups progressing to Friday’s Semi-finals, world No.6 Ieva Serapinaite of Lithuania had to work to the finish line to secure the final slot from Linzhi Xie of China.
Group B featured another host of huge names including Hungary dynamo Michelle Gulyas who claimed silver at last year’s UIPM Pentathlon World Championships. However there was somewhat of a surprise when World No.50 Sunwoo Kim of Korea topped the group, bringing some of the form she has shown in Mixed Relay events this year, including gold at the UIPM 2023 World Cup Final in Ankara (TUR) in June. Gulyas (HUN) finished second in the group with Ilke Ozyuksel of Türkiye also among the leaders thanks to the day’s fastest Laser Run time of 11:02.80. Home favourites Olivia Green and Kerenza Bryson gave Great Britain fans plenty to cheer as they also progressed safely.
In the day’s final action, Mariana Arceo of Mexico came out on top of a terrific Group C contest racking up the day’s highest score with 1150 points, with defending world champion Elena Micheli of Italy second with a total of 1133 points. French duo Marie Oteiza and Elodie Clouvel were also among the top performers but there was a shock when world No.15 Blanka Guzi of Hungary missed out on the Semi-finals in spite of a stunning Laser Run time of 11:06.90
Team USA had athletes in group B and C where Heidi Hendrick led the women in the fencing round robin with a total of 15 victories on the world stage. Hendricks followed this with the 5th fastest swim in her group (2:13) starting the laser run in the 5th position where she needed to hold on to the top 12 to move into the semi-finals. After lap one, Hendricks dropped to 11th place where steady shooting was not enough to secure her place in the semi-finals ending the day in 21st.
Madison Gonzalez competing in her first Senior World Championships had trouble finding her rhythm in the fence, taking good actions but not able to land the point finishing the fence with 7 victories. Gonzalez who comes from a synchronized swimming background used her experience in the water to take the 3rd fastest swim in her group starting the laser run in 22nd place which she held onto during the final event finishing the day in 22nd.
Jessica Davis and Phaelen French paired up in the last group of the day for their shot at advancing to the semi-finals. Davis being the sole women to achieve this in the 2023 season was planning to make it a repeat with French hoping to follow her lead. Both athletes started the fencing round robin with a string of wins and losses ending the day with 13 victories for Davis and 9 victories for French. Both athletes had strong swims with Davis setting a personal best of 2:23 and French hitting the wall at 2:30 putting them in 17th and 20th after the first two events. The last event of the day and last chance to move into the top 12 had Davis and French starting from behind with some of the sports best runners in the field. On the beautiful laser run course with a mix of grass and track both athletes were able to maintain their positions and finished the day with Jessica Davis in 17th and Phaelen French in 20th, both missing out on advancing to the semi-finals.
Team USA went head to head with the best female pentathletes in the world this week and know the work that needs to be put in before the PanAm Games. In just a few short months they will face off again for a coveted spot on the Paris 2024 Olympic Team all hoping to make their mark.
Competition in Bath (GBR) continues Thursday with Men’s Qualification and the Women’s Fencing Ranking Round ahead of Friday’s Semi-finals.
Good Luck to the Men of Team USA: