Junior PanAm Games - Cali Colombia
by USA Modern Pentathlon
The inaugural Junior Pan American Games in beautiful Cali, Colombia included over 25 different sports, 39 disciplines, and over 3,500 athletes from 41 countries. The Modern Pentathlon was contested by 17 countries on December 1st through the 4th with the Women competing first after the fencing ranking round robin. Team USA was represented by two young athletes who earned the right to compete in this inaugural event. Jenna Kelly out of Denver, CO is a multiple-time World Team member at only 17 and Addison Leckrone from Tacoma, WA in her first year of competitions were here to not only experience this first-time event but to give it their all for a Gold Medal and an automatic spot at the PanAm Games in Santiago, Chile which is a Paris 2024 Olympic Qualifier.
Day 1 included the equestrian jury ride where 18 horses were tested on the competition course before being included in the final list. The course was set on top of the Camp (insert name of venue) at a max height of 3’ with most at 80-90cm. It was a straightforward course with both a double and triple on the outside line with plenty of room to either make it a tight course keeping potential time penalties low or go long and keep it safe. Either option will require each athlete to stay focused and in control of these strong Cali horses.
To begin the competition both the women and the men competed in the fencing ranking round on Day 1 with the women starting first. As is traditional you fence your fencing pair first before beginning the round-robin and Jenna and Addison both took to the piste for their first bout to fence one another. Once the bout began both athletes fought for the point with Addison Leckrone coming out with the first point. For the first quarter, Addison lead the fence with a string of 7 straight victories with Jenna close behind before both athletes had a period of wins and defeats. In the last quarter, it was Jenna Kelly who fought her way through the competitors with 7 straight victories to end the day in 5th place overall tied for 4th only 9 points from 2nd place, and Addison Leckrone finishing in 10th place, tied for 8th with 12 total victories. A great way to start the competition for both athletes.
Day 2 begins with the swimming portion of the event and Team USA’s Jenna Kelly is seeded first and is hoping to kick off the event with a win to propel her into the top 3 before the popular fencing bonus round begins and every point counts towards precious seconds needed in the Laser-Run. Addison Leckrone will be hoping to set a personal best in the swim and move up in the ranking before starting the fence.
Addison was in heat 2 for the first member of Team USA to hit the water and swam a steady race finishing in 2:42, slightly off her best time. Jenna Kelly was in the last heat in the fastest lane against teams from Mexico, Guatemala, and other strong countries. Starting strong Jenna Kelly finished in a time of 2:28 also slightly off her best in this non-traditional 33m long pool.
Next up we returned to the piste for the popular fencing bonus round where it's the last chance to earn precious points for the final event, the Laser-Run. After a quick warm-up both athletes were called to the strip to face their opponents and within the short 30 seconds of the bonus round were defeated.
The last two events of the Women’s Final at the Junior PanAm Games started with Team USA’s Jenna Kelly in 7th place overall and Addison Leckrone in 16th after both were defeated in the Fencing Bonus Round. These athletes have a strong riding background and after walking the riding course with Coach Tracey Powers and a good draw had high expectations for a good performance and move up in the ranking.
Addison Leckrone would be in group one riding 8th after the first 6 riders were eliminated in the competition arena. Entering the arena after so many eliminations the spectators were on the edge of their seats when the bell rang. Addison approached the course like a seasoned veteran and rode clean with the first 300 scores of the day. Jenna Kelly was in group 2 riding 5th on an equally good draw with many of the previous riders having troubles on their rides. Like Addison, a strong rider Jenna was able to navigate the course near perfectly with only 2-time faults for a score of 298. After their strong riding performances, each moved up in the overall ranking before the last event, the Laser-Run.
After a quick transition from the ride to the laser run Jenna Kelly was starting in 6th place with a 1:05 handicap and Addison Leckrone in 10th 1:49 back in the final event of the women’s final. With strong runners in the field, both athletes were fighting for every place during the 4 x 800m laps on a hot and humid afternoon here in Cali, Columbia. Each athlete laid it on the line with some good shooting series with Addison Leckrone able to hold off some strong athletes for a 12th place finish overall with Jenna Kelly close behind at 14th overall in their first Junior PanAm Games!
The event was outstanding, the venues were stunning, staff and volunteers were forever helpful for an unbelievable experience had by all. Thank you to PanAm Sports, the local organizing committee, the UIPM, and the USOPC for giving these young athletes an opportunity to compete with their fellow athletes.
Congratulations to all of the competitors and to our two young Team USA athletes, Jenna Kelly and Addison Leckrone- job well done!
Go Team USA!!