World Cup silver for Spence in Palm Springs
Britain’s Mhairi Spence made a stunning start to the modern pentathlon season by winning silver at the opening World Cup of the year in Palm Springs, the USA in the early hours of this morning (Sunday).
Spence captured the second World Cup medal of her career in a performance that was only bettered by Amelie Caze, France’s three-times world champion.
The 25-year-old University of Bath Coach Education and Sports Development graduate’s only other World Cup medal was a bronze won on home soil at Medway in April last year.
And in a terrific day for the University of Bath-based British pentathlon programme, the other three women competing in Palm Springs all secured top-10 finishes, with Katy Burke just missing out on the medals in fourth, Samantha Murray finishing seventh and Heather Fell 10th.
Spence, originally from Inverness but now living and training in Bath, produced a solid performance throughout the day and ended with a strong run/shoot, holding off a late challenge from Germany’s Olympic gold medallist Lena Schoneborn.
“In the combined event I had to focus on my running as I could hear the long legs of Schoneborn behind me,” she said afterwards. “I was so tired, but luckily the end of the run was downhill and it gave me a bit of courage to just go for it.
“Winning silver means a lot to me. I missed out on the World Championships team last year and that made me even more determined. I trained extra hard during the winter and it has paid off.”
Spence started the day with 880 points from the fencing for joint 11th place, while Burke (16th, 832 points), Murray (22nd, 760 points) and Fell (26th, 736 points) all left themselves with plenty to do.
The Lancashire pair of Murray and Burke both shone in the pool. Murray’s time of 2:12.40 for the 200m freestyle was the third fastest, while Burke’s 2:12.74 was fourth quickest.
Spence kept up her momentum with 2:17.67, the 10th best time of the day, while Fell clocked 2:20.08. Spence dropped just 20 points from the maximum 1200 in the riding arena, with Murray adding 1140 points to her total, Burke netted 1112 from the equestrian challenge and Fell added 1100 points to her score.
Devon’s Fell excelled in the final event of the day, the combined run/shoot. Her time of 12.20.52 was the second fastest of the day and was enough to secure her a top-10 finish.
The British women all fared well in the discipline. Spence had gone into the run/shoot in fourth and 56 seconds off leader Caze. She clocked 12.30.77, the sixth best time, to finish four seconds ahead of Olympic champion Schoneborn and take the silver medal.
Burke was eighth going into the run/shoot and her 12:30.67 was fifth best, ensuring she ended the day in fourth overall, equalling her best World Cup result. Murray’s 12:40.33 was the seventh best performance of the day.
The quartet train at the Pentathlon GB high performance centre at the University of Bath.
The Palm Springs World Cup is the first to use laser pistols rather than the traditional air pistols.
The men’s final gets underway later today with Nick Woodbridge and Jamie Cooke going for the British team. Because of the time difference, that reaches its climax in the early hours of tomorrow (Monday) morning.
World Cup 1 women’s results
Gold: Amelie Caze (FRA) – 5284 pts
Silver: Mhairi Spence (GBR) – 5208 pts
Bronze: Lena Schoneborn (GER) – 5192 pts
4th: Katy Burke (GBR) – 5152 pts
7th: Samantha Murray (GBR) – 5072 pts
10th: Heather Fell (GBR) – 4996 pts