It’s crunch time at the University of Bath Sports Training Village, with finals weekend under way in the Modern Pentathlon European Championships.
Sell-out crowds will be cheering on 72 athletes from across the continent as they bid for both medals and Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualification.
The men’s final is up first on Saturday with Pentathlon GB having three representatives – Jamie Cooke, who was third in Thursday’s qualifiers, and University of Bath students Joe Choong (pictured) and Tom Toolis. We will be providing updates throughout the day, with the medals being presented around 6pm.
Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe on his way to victory in the European Championships men’s final
5.30pm: RUN/SHOOT Ireland’s Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe completes an excellent day in fitting fashion by producing a storming combined event to take gold in front of a large crowd at the University of Bath. France’s Valentin Prades takes silver and bronze goes to World Cup Final winner Riccardo De Luca of Italy.
Prades said: “I feel really good. I was very sad after riding because I picked up a lot of penalties but in the semi-final i had a good combined which really helped my confidence.
“Before the combined I said to myself ‘you are crazy, come on, try and run fast!’.”
Joe Choong produces a storming last 800m to finish seventh and claim a Rio 2016 qualifying place. De Luca already has a place, meaning it is the top nine who set the Olympic standard – unfortunately Jamie Cooke just misses out in tenth. Tom Toolis is 21st.
There was a big crowd to watch the riding in the men’s final of the European Championships
4.30pm: RIDING Ireland’s Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe is the new leader going into the combined event after picking up just five time penalties in the ride.
“That was lovely,” he said. “I was really lucky with the horse I got, he was really sweet and suited my kind of riding. I stooped him into the last a little bit and he saved me there.
“Now onto the combined – I’m just trying to not let my mind run away from me and just focus on the processes.”
Jamie Cooke also goes clear, earning 298 points to move him up to second in the overall rankings. The Brit punched the air in delight as he completed his round.
“I’m feeling ecstatic,” he said. “I was so nervous going into it as there are quite a few people here watching.
“So far its been really nice. The fencing was good, it could have been a disaster like normal, but it was good. I’m having a solid day.
“Im feeling good about the combined. The combined in the semi was nice and obviously the home support helps.”
Hungary’s Robert Kasza is third going into the run/shoot, one place ahead of Joe Choong who knocked down one fence.
Four athletes pick up a maximum of 300 points – Jan Kuf and David Kindl of the Czech Republic, Hungary’s Adam Marosi and Germany’s Patrick Dogue.
Kindl said: “The horse was very good, i have no problem with the course. Everything was really great.”
Previous leader Maksim Kustov has a nightmare as a refusal and two fences down leave him 34th in the riding standings, dropping him to sixth overall.
The athletes had high praise for the horses, which have been provided for the event by yards across England.
Poland’s Sebastian Stasiak said: “The horse today was excellent, I wish I rode a horse like this all of the time when I’m competing. The seven points I lost for hitting a pole was definitely because of me not because of the horse.”
Dimitar Krastanov of Bulgaria added: “I’m so happy with my performance, I had such an amazing horse. He did everything, he was just a professor.”
And France’s Christopher Patte said: “The riding horse was very good as in England you have very nice horses. I need to be more experienced at jumping but that will come.”
Hungary’s Bence Demeter, who was fourth going into the ride, will start the combined event in last place after his horse was deemed to have been made lame after training had begun and he was not allowed to compete. An appeal was rejected.
A capacity crowd watches the fencing in the men's final of the European Championships
1.15pm: FENCING Russia’s Maksim Kustov is the star performer in a packed STV sports hall turned fencing salle as he wins 24 of his 11 bouts. He also goes top of the overall standings, just ahead of Ireland’s Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe and France’s Valentin Prades who both record 23 wins.
O’Keeffe said: “The morning has gone really well. At one point I was beginning to get really excited because the fencing was going to plan. So I decided to stick to my process and everything went really well.
“At the moment I’m really happy but the day isn’t over so I’m going to stick to my process and try not to get too emotionally involved.”
Joe Choong is the top Brit, winning 18 and losing 17 of his bouts to sit sixth overall. Jamie Cooke is two places back after winning 16 bouts, while Tom Toolis’s 15 wins put him 22nd overall.
Choong said: I feel good, that is one of my best fences compared to my worst in the semis. I’m very pleased with that.
“The swim was good too. It wasn’t quite what I wanted after my time in the semi but it is still the same time I’ve been going all year so I should be in a good position now.
“The British are typically strong at the horse riding, we know some of the horses from training so I definitely feel we have an advantage there.”
Toolis added: “Today hasn’t gone as best as I’d hoped. I’m hoping with the next two events that I can improve my position and hopefully get my way up the ladder.
“I’m looking forward to the ride and some of these horses I train on so I’m confident going into that. And then hopefully, going into the combined, I’ll have a good position and move my way up again.
“Jamie had the same fencing score as me and slightly better swim so I think we’ll be about even so far. Jospeh’s had a really good fence so he should be up there – I’m looking forward to see what he does.”
Olympic champion David Svoboda moves up to tenth overall with 21 fencing wins.
Latvia’s Deniss Cerkovkis was 23rd in the fencing. He said: “I am a little bit tired, a little bit under pressure but I think it’s happening with everybody more or less. I could complain a little bit about age, I’m 36 and a half so I have to admit age has taken something. I’m still feeling confident enough [ahead of this afternoon].”
“Everything is perfect [at the venue]. In Latvia we have to improve many things to achieve your standard and it won’t happen in the next 10 years for sure. So I’m glad to be here, everything is well prepared, the staff are very welcoming and everything is on a high level. The British can be proud.”
Ondrej Polivka of the Czech Republic, 24th in the fencing, added: “I feel a little better than in the semi-final. The fencing result is not my ideal but as I said, at the same time it is better than the semi-final. It makes it a little bit more difficult now as everybody else’s results are so close so I’m just trying to think about the next two disciplines.
“I hope to make up some places in the riding and combined. We will see but I think a few places are possible now.
“The facilities are really good and I like the venue a lot. It’s all in the one place so it’s great.”
8.30am: SWIMMING It’s a fantastic start for the home athletes as Jamie Cooke and Joe Choong set the two fastest times in the London 2012 Legacy Pool, 1:56.16 and 1:59.20 respectively.
“That was pretty good, better than the semis,” said Cooke. “It’s fantastic to have the home crowd here. You can certainly hear them when they arrive and at the finish.”
Russians Maksim Kustov and Egor Puchkarevskiy sit third and fourth, clocking 2:00.44 and 2:01.40, while Sports & Exercise Science student Tom Toolis is 11th after finishing the 200m freestyle in 2:04.28.