There was a good turnout of spectators at the University of Bath on Tuesday to see Italy win the first gold medal of the 2015 Modern Pentathlon European Championships.
Eighteen athletes from nine countries took part in the opening event, the mixed team relay, and received vocal backing throughout the five disciplines of swimming, fencing, riding, running and shooting – all of which took place at the Sports Training Village.
There was a loud cheer from the stands and the terrace outside the Sports Café as Valerio Grasselli charged down the home straight on the athletics track and brushed the tape before jumping into team-mate Camilla Lontano’s arms to celebrate their gold-medal success.
“We are incredibly happy,” said Lontano. “We are not taking part in the individual events so it was important that we won a medal today.”
A delighted Grasselli added: “That feels very, very good. It was very hard and even a bit unexpected but it was fantastic – as the day went on, every sport seemed to go better and better.”
They had provided the home fans with plenty to cheer in the opening event of the day, setting the fastest time in the 200m freestyle swim in the London 2012 Legacy Pool.
French and Evans – both University of Bath graduates and past and present athletes on the Dual Career programme –slipped to fifth after the fencing and were only able to make up one place in the riding, performed on a specially-constructed show-jumping arena on the athletics in-field.
They briefly challenged for a bronze medal in the run/shoot but French was satisfied with a top-five finish overall and said she had enjoyed competing on home turf.
“It was a really good start and we were really happy with the swimming result,” said French, who will compete in the women’s individual event on Friday.
“We lost touch a little bit with the fencing and we couldn’t pull it back from there, which was a shame, but overall it was a good day.
“Competing at the same place we train is a bit weird but it’s nice at the same time. We feel at home, have the home comforts, we know where everything is and we can get away from it all.
“It’s really special to have your home crowd there cheering you on. I can’t say I’m used to it!
“Fans should definitely come along over the rest of the week. It’s a good fun day here, I’m looking forward to the weekend’s event and it definitely helps competing in front of your home crowd.”
A number of families attended the championships, with many youngsters taking the opportunity to have a go at fencing in the Throws and Jumps Hall. Others took part in a run/shoot event before gathering for a picture on the podium.
The action gets under way at 9am and tickets are available at pentathlongb.org/euros2015.