Three sports, three continents, nine medals as University of Bath-based sportspeople enjoy weekend to remember

28 May 2019

It was a brilliant Bank Holiday Weekend for sportspeople based at the University of Bath as they won nine medals, five of them gold, on three continents across three different sports – modern pentathlon, wheelchair fencing and judo.

Pentathlon GB athletes continued their fantastic start to a 2019 that includes this summer’s European Championships in Bath (click here to buy tickets) by securing four podium places at the fourth World Cup of the season in Prague, Czech Republic.

Kate French led the way with the third World Cup title of her career, her victory in the women’s individual competition based on a supreme fencing performance of 24 wins from 35 bouts.

That gave her a lead that she maintained throughout the rest of the final, finishing 14 seconds clear of the field, while team-mate and fellow University of Bath graduate Jess Varley produced a rapid run-shoot to bag bronze – the first World Cup medal of her career.

French said: “The first two competitions of the season didn’t quite go to plan for me so I needed a good result. I’m super happy that I pulled everything together today, it’s been a good day all around and I’m obviously delighted to end it by taking victory.”

Varley added: “I’m absolutely over the moon with my performance today. I’ve been working for this for my whole life and I’m so excited that it’s finally happened and I’ve finished on a World Cup podium.”

After gold and bronze on Saturday, there was silver for Pentathlon GB in the men’s individual final on Sunday as MJ Church Ambassador Joe Choong brilliantly chased down two athletes in the last 800m to secure his second World Cup medal of the season.

“A lot of the GB team have our families out here and I passed them on the final lap and could hear them cheering,” said Choong. “That support gave me the extra motivation for the last push. It should be amazing with hopefully hundreds of British fans cheering us on at the Europeans in August.”

The icing on the cake came in Monday’s mixed relay final as Sam Curry and Jo Muir, who were in the top four all day, struck gold in impressive fashion.

Wheelchair fencers Dimitri Coutya and Piers Gilliver, who train alongside Pentathlon GB athletes in the University of Bath Sports Training Village fencing salle, were also in fantastic form at the latest IWASF World Cup in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Coutya dominated the Category B foil competition, conceding just 19 hits in four knockout rounds, and then won his second gold in 24 hours when he defeated Ukraine’s Oleg Naumenko 15-6 in the epee final.

MJ Church Ambassador Gilliver – who, like Coutya, is coached by Peter Rome at the University – won his fourth World Cup Category A epee title of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic qualification period in emphatic style, beating Germany’s Maurice Schmidt 15-4 in the final. That came a couple of days after he had won bronze in the sabre competition.

Completing the medal-laden weekend was Team Bath judoka Ben Fletcher, who claimed his fourth podium place of 2019 when he won -100kg silver at the Hohhot Grand Prix in China.

Fletcher, coached by Juergen Klinger in the University’s judo dojo, needed just 15 seconds to beat Mongola’s Otgonbaatar Lkhagvasuren in the semi-finals but was pipped to the gold medal by Guham Cho of South Korea. The latest podium place sees Fletcher move up to seventh in the world rankings.

Click here to find out more about high-performance sport at the University of Bath.

Pentathlon pictures courtesy of UIPM and Filip Komorous.

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