Lina Batuleviciute of Lithuania emerged as the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) Champion of Champions, winning the women’s title at the Qatar Foundation Recreation Centre and Al Shaqab Arena yesterday.
Batuleviciute topped in the swimming and riding events, while finishing a creditable fourth in the combined (shooting and running) event. She was a distant 14th in the swimming, but the 28-year-old tallied 1273 points to clinch the title. Italian Alice Sotero, one of the contenders, came second with 1266 points, seven behind the winner. The 2016 Olympic silver medallist Elodie Clouvel of France took the final podium spot with 1261 points.
The result continued an intriguing season of transition in women’s pentathlon, with a number of athletes claiming their first major titles such as world champion Gulnaz Gubaydullina of Russia and World Cup Final gold medallist Tamara Alekszejev of Hungary. Yesterday, in the absence of Gubaydullina, the Olympic champion Chloe Esposito of Australia and her celebrated compatriot Laura Asadauskaite, Batuleviciute seized her chance to scale the top of the podium.
Batuleviciute was delighted having won her second individual title of her career in Doha.
“I am surprised that I won,” said the beaming 28-year-old. “This is the second title of my career and the first was last month in the World Military Championships. I know that I am a good fencer but I am surprised that my riding went so well after a bad day yesterday at the jumping test. The facilities are very good here in Doha, probably the best of anywhere I have competed. It’s is a very high level of completion in Doha. There are some strong competitors out there, so I am glad I could win the title,” added Batuleviciute.
The Lithuanian had already claimed victory in one UIPM Category A competition this year when she won gold at the CISM World Military Championships in Drzonkow, Poland. She also finished 14th in the World Cup Final in Vilnius in her homeland, where the 2012 Olympic champion Asadauskaite was the star attraction.
Only three of the 17 participating athletes managed a clean round in Riding, but one of them was Batuleviciute whose perfect round kept up her momentum in the race for gold.
Sotero could have snatched the title from Batuleviciute if the Italian had finished higher than the Lithuanian in the combined event, but she could only manage a fifth spot. Sotero performed consistently well in all her events yesterday but never managed to take a top spot in any of the five Olympic disciplines. The Italian’s best finish came in swimming, where she was second.
Clouvel, meanwhile, was delighted to have come third. The Rio Olympic silver medallist too had a chance to grab the winner’s trophy. But the Frenchwoman could only manage 12th place in the combined shoot and run using a laser pistol.
Clouvel started Laser-Run in first place 15 seconds ahead of Sotero and 16 more than Batuleviciute. Clouvel protected her lead until the second shooting range, where Sotero and Batuleviciute stole the initiative. Batuleviciute proved she had the greater composure on the day as she edged ahead of Sotero to win by seven seconds, with Clouvel crossing the line five seconds later.
Clouvel, however, was content to have finished in the podium. “It was a very good competition. I love Qatar, it’s an amazing place. I had just a one week of training for this event. I wanted to finish in podium this year because it’s my second time in Qatar. I want do much better next year,” Clouvel said.
“Having said that, I am happy with my performance here. My fencing was good today, swimming was ok. I loved competing with my horse. I want to come back here again win gold,” she added. The 28-year-old Clouvel has already set her sights on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. “Now I have to start preparing for the next season. My main goal is to do well in the 2020 Olympics. I want a gold medal this time as I have won silver in Rio Games,” she noted.
Meanwhile, the men’s competition will be held today, with another strong field of 18 athletes battling for the honours. The 2016 Olympic champion Alexander Lesun of Russia will be the star attraction, who will look to dethrone last year’s champion Patrick Dogue of Germany.
The 29-year-old Lesun has also won gold at the World Championships in Rome (2012) and Warsaw (2014). Frenchman Valentin Belaud, who is currently ranked No. 9, will also be seeking his revenge from Dogue, having finished second to the German last year.
Qatar will have no representation this year as Khalid al-Nuaimi, who had participated in the last edition, is out with a shoulder injury.
Qatar is hosting the event for the fourth consecutive year. This is the first time the Qatar Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon Federation will organise the event after both the bodies merged earlier this year.
Top 10 Results
1. Lina Batuleviciute (Lithuania) 1273 points; 2. Alice Sotero (Italy) 1266; 3. Elodie Clouvel (France) 1261; 4. Shino Yamanaka (Japan) 1241. 5. Janine Kohlmann (Germany) 1237; 6. Ekaterina Khuraskina (Russia) 1236; 7. Anna Maliszewska (Poland) 1226; 8. Ronja Steinborn (Germany) 1217; 9. Sophia Hernandez (Guatemala) 1205; 10. Gloria Tocchi (Italy) 1182.
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