It is a year that Samantha Murray would want to forget quickly. The former world champion from Britain said she was heartbroken after finishing ninth at the Rio Olympics. The 2012 London Games silver medallist had hoped to be on the podium again but faltered on the big stage in Rio.
Disappointed, the Lancashire girl took a break and came to Doha for the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) Champion of Champions hoping to end the year on a high.
But the victory once again eluded her. This time, though, the 27-year-old Brit managed to take the result in the right spirit as she sported a grin after settling for silver at the Qatar Foundation Recreation Centre and Al Shaqab Arena yesterday. Murray went into the combined event (running and shooting), with a decent lead but crumbled in the relay to give Annika Schleu a second successive title.
Schleu had won here last year and the German pounced on a mistake from Murray yesterday to take home the title. The world number five had started the concluding run-shoot relay in eighth position with a deficit of 64 seconds to Murray.
But Murray lost her way and went off course, thus losing some valuable seconds. Schleu, a two-time world champion in the relay event, produced a trademark strong finish as she charged through the field to rapidly move into fourth place at the head of a chasing pack.
South Korea’s Kim Seehee left the final shooting range in first place only for Schleu to catch-up and then cruise past in the final stages. Murray, whose shooting skills also left her dry on the day, fought past 20-year-old Seehee to snatch second place.
In the end, Schleu finished with 1300 points, just seven ahead of Murray’s 1293. Sehee was a further four points behind with 1289.
Italy’s Alice Sotero had led Sarolta Kovacs of Hungary and Natsumi Tomonaga of Japan in the opening swimming event. But Murray took the lead after dominating fencing and jumping components. The victory was there for the taking for Murray but she committed a crucial mistake to hand the trophy to Schleu.
“I went wrong way on the running course. Course marshall didn’t know I was coming. I turned right instead of left and then I sprinted back but I lost some time and was behind,” Murray said.
“I threw me off. I ran fast and hard. As you can see anything can happen in modern pentathlon. But I am happy to finish on the podium and take the silver medal,” she said.
Schleu was surprised with her victory. “I won here last year, so I think it’s my lucky place. I started eighth in the last round but I knew I was good at combined event. I wasn’t sure about my fitness but was also not sure about fitness of other girls,” she said
“I am really surprised I won. I wanted to be in the top eight. That was my goal. When I started eighth in the final event, I tried to run but never attacked for the podium. But I could do it because I was a good runner. The combined event (shooting and running) is where I am strong at. That really made the difference today. 2016 was the best season of my career. I am fourth in world rankings and came fifth at the Rio Olympic Games, so I am pleased with my performances,” the 26-year-old German added.
Men’s competition will be held today. The season-ending event, which sees all disciplines contested in a single day, only offers invitations to the top 18 men and women in the world rankings, so an impressive field is guaranteed.
The action begins with a 200 metres freestyle swimming competition. A round robin of epee fencing will then take place before the fencing bonus round, with show jumping following on a course with 12 obstacles. Champion will then be crowned after a combined 3200m run and shooting using a laser pistol.
Meanwhile, Fahad Saad al-Qahtani, President of the Qatar Modern Pentathlon Federation, said all efforts are being made to promote the sport in Qatar. He said a committee is being set up to look into it and revealed that a new facility is coming up at Oxygen Park in Education City, a sprawling 12-hectare space which is part of the Qatar Foundation, where the Modern Pentathlon events could be held.
1. Annika Schleu (Germany) 1300 points
2. Samantha Murray (Great Britain) 1293
3. Kim Sehee (Korea) 1289
4. Natsumi Tomonaga (Japan) 1282
5. Anastasiya Prokopenko (Belarus) 1273
6. Samantha Achterberg (USA) 1267
7. Sarolta Kovacs (Hungary) 1249
8. Joanna Muir (Great Britain) 1246
9. Alice Sotero (Italy) 1229
10. Tamara Alekszejev(Hungary) 1217
11. Iryna Khokhlova (Argentina) 1180
12. Anna Maliszewska (Poland) 948
13. Laura Leidis Moya (Cuba) 944
14. Haydy Morsy (Egypt) 899
15. Lena Schoneborn (Germany) 479
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