Tokyo 2020: University of Bath graduate Kate French joins ranks of Olympic Champions as Pentathlon GB star wins a magnificent gold
French, who trains with Pentathlon GB at the Team Bath Sports Training Village, produced strong performances in the swimming and show jumping before overhauling a 15-second deficit in the decisive run-shoot and taking the title in stunning style with a new Olympic points record.
It means the Sports Performance graduate, who finished fifth at Rio 2016, joins Dr Steph Cook and Kate Allenby (gold and bronze, Sydney 2000), Georgina Harland (bronze, Athens 2004), Heather Fell (silver, Beijing 2008) and Samantha Murray (silver, London 2012) in the ranks of Olympic medallists from Pentathlon GB.
It is also an eighth gold medal won by University of Bath-based sportspeople in Tokyo, adding to the seven won by members of the British Swimming National Centre Bath.
“I don’t know what just happened, I can’t really believe it right now,” said French, whose points total of 1,385 was a new Olympic Record. “I knew I had to focus, I knew I could do it if I just focussed on my shooting and ran as hard as I could.
“The team were in the stadium supporting, I could hear them in the crowd and everyone back home, I can’t thank them enough for their support. I couldn’t have done it without them. Thank you so much.
“Thank you to The National Lottery as well, I wouldn’t be without them either so thank you to people who buy the tickets.”
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Team-mate Jo Muir, who also studied Sports Performance, was 14th on her Olympic Games debut.
After a difficult start to the fencing, which took place on Thursday, French fought well in the second half of the ranking round to finish with 20 victories from her 35 bouts and go into day two sitting sixth overall.
A personal best of 2:10.18 in the 200m freestyle swim got Friday off to a strong start for French, who then produced a perfect clearance in the show jumping – picking up just six time penalties – to move up to fifth in the overall rankings.
She started 15 seconds behind leader Uliana Batashova of the Russian Olympic Committee but soon overhauled that with a phenomenal performance in the laser run and surged away from the pack to take the title in magnificent fashion.
Stephen Baddeley, Director of Sport at the University of Bath, said: “What an incredible achievement from Kate, we are all so proud of her and she really deserves this moment. Kate has been part of the University of Bath family for a decade now, when she arrived to combine training with Pentathlon GB at their National Performance Centre with studying Sports Performance. We have seen her talent blossom over those years thanks to her relentless hard work and dedication to her sport. Congratulations Kate!”
Pentathletes will be hoping for more medal success in the men’s final on Saturday, with Mathematics graduate Joe Choong leading the way after the fencing ranking round on Thursday. Former World and European Champion Jamie Cooke is also aiming for a podium place, he is 15th after the fencing discipline.
Picture credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo