The women have the honour of competing first tomorrow and nerves will be extremely high as there is not only an World Championships final position at stake, but also 3 Olympic qualification places and valuable ranking points which will be vital if they are to realise their Olympic dream.
77 women have made the trip to the eternal city of Rome, which means 3 qualification groups, so to make it through to the prized final the Pentathletes will have to make the top 12. This will be a massive challenge in itself as an extremely strong field with all of the world’s top 20 competing.
The stars of the sport Olympic Champion Lena Schoneborn (GER), triple World Champion Amelie Caze (FRA) and defending champion Viktoria Tereshuk (UKR) all should have no issues making the top 12. The cream of the crop will use tomorrow’s competition to get themselves familiar with the facilities and get a valuable hit out before the all-important Saturday’s final.
But as we have seen in the past, they can’t be too relaxed, as any slip up and they could find themselves outside the top 12 and watching from the final from the sidelines. Tereshuk knows this more than anyone as she had to come from behind to clinch the final qualifying position at last year’s World Championships which she eventually won.
Despite having a brilliant 12 months the pair of Mhairi Spence (GBR) and World Cup #2 Champion Elodie Clouvel (FRA) have not yet qualified for the London
Olympics. This will be added motivation for duo to go that one step further to clinch a medal that will confirm their attendance at the greatest show on each in less than 100 days’ time in London.
Freyja Prentice (GBR) has had an extremely disappointing 2012 where she only managed to make one World Cup Series Final. The young Brit has been thrown a lifeline to be selected for the World Championships, so this is her last chance to impress enough for London 2012 selection. She will have to improve her fencing immensely to squeeze into the top 12, which would straight away remove the all the negative thoughts entering her head after a disastrous year.
Prentice’s team mate Samantha Murray (GBR) is on the opposite end of the spectrum, after a less than satisfactory 2011 which saw her drop out of the British team she has been in red hot form in 2012 which has resulted in winning her first World Cup medal and put herself into contention for a shock Olympic berth. Tomorrow will be the true test to see just how much Murray has improved against the best of the best in a high pressure situation.
The battle for supremacy within the home team Italy will continue tomorrow. It seems when one of the girls makes the final they all will and when one doesn’t, they will all miss out. The home team will be represented by Sabrina Crognale, Lavinia Bonessio, Claudia Cesarini and Allessia Mancini. The 4 girls need a BIG performance if they are to qualify for Saturday’s final and they will need to feed as much off the home crowd support as possible to ensure a safe passage through to the final where they will face an inner battle to secure than Olympic qualification spot, providing they can make their way through the mine field of 71 other women and get to the final.
2009 World Champion Qian Chen has not hit the heights she reached in London 3 years ago, but she showed glimpses of what made her the first female Chinese World Champion as she led her Chinese team to silver in the Women’s relay. Her massive support base back in China will be hoping this is a sign she has got her mojo back and can bring the gold back to China. But of course she has to navigate the tough qualification tomorrow.
The lower ranked athletes will see tomorrow as a final. They need to produce their carer best performance to have the honour to line up next to the top athletes on Saturday. Natalya Coyle (IRE), Donna Vakalis (CAN) and Suzanne Stennitus all fall into this category and if they fail to make that top 12, their hopes of getting the valuable Olympic ranking points which comes with making a final will be lost and their Olympic dream will be in tatters.
With the magnificent facilities here in Rome, Italy and a star studded field with everything to play for tomorrow will be one of the all time classic qualification days. Make sure you follow all the live results, updates and pictures on Pentathlon.org and UIPM’s official Facebook page facebook.com/modpen.