So far athletes claimed their spots through Olympic qualification competitions – in 2011 there were the World Championships, World Cup Final and continental competitions and this season only the World Championships held in Italy earlier this month.
Now the remaining places will be decided by their rankings, observing the nation quota. The competition in China will be the last chance to add points to the ranking and move positions to fit inside the top places and get a spot for their countries or in their national teams.
German Steffan Kollner and Italians Nicola Benedetti and RIccardo de Luca were those who managed to qualify this year through the World Championships in Rome, Italy. Kollner got the second spot for his nation, as Steffan Gebhardt achieved the qualifying standard at last year’s European Championships.
Their teammates Alexander Nobis and Delf Borrmann, however, are willing to impress their federation in China and improve their Olympic PWR where they stand close to the 30th position and boost their chances of making the national team. Svoboda’s fellow Ondrej Polivka is in delicate position, since he is at the current standings’ bottom positions right now (32nd in Olympic ranking and 11th position to qualify by ranking).
He is not facing any opponent from his country, since Michal Michalik missed most of this season and struggled with his form, but will have to put his own health problems back and held his position. De Lucca is member of the strong Italian team that have four pentathletes achieving the qualifying standard, and will dispute a place with his fellows Nicola Benedetti (2012 World Cup #3 winner) and Pierpaolo Petroni, while Federico Giancamilli is expected to not make the team due to his poor 2012 season.
Italy is not the only country with at least three pentathletes in good conditions of making the national team. Russia is willing to get two medals in the men’s competition with current world champion and ranking leader Aleksander Lesun and double Olympic champion Andrey Moiseev, leaving top pentathletes like Ilia Frolov and Sergey Kariakin out.
If Russia seems to have the tough decision already taken after the success of the duo Lesun-Moiseev in Rome (however still not confirmed), that’s not the case of other countries. Olympic hosts have secured one place with youngster Jamie Cooke in last year’s European Championships, and a second place will come through the rankings, probably with Nicolas Woodbridge who is the British leader in the rankings.
Samuel Weale, however, might claim a spot in the team. South Korea will probably count on World Championships medalist Jinhwa Jung, and second place will be taken by either Hwang or Jin-Woo Hong – the last got his country a place in 2011 Asian Championships.
Belarus has a place already secured by veteran Dzmitry Meliakh and the other place is expected to come through the rankings with Stanislas Zhurauliou; his partners Prokopenko and Hayanouski, however, need an impressive display in China to have a chance in the national team.
If all remaining places went through rankings as of today, the countries with two pentathletes would be: Russia, Hungary, Italy, South Korea, China, Great Britain, Ukraine, Belarus, Germany, Egypt, Mexico, Czech Republic and France; countries with one athlete are: Guatemala, United States, Chile, Japan, Australia, Austria, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Kazakhstan.
Poland is a very traditional country in modern pentathlon, having collected several medals in the last hundred years. Poland’s best ranked athlete is Remigiusz Golis, as a coincidence is the 36th in Olympic rankings (many qualified athletes are lower in the rankings and some better ranked are ruled out for being the third or fourth of their countries).
Golis collected 101 points with his 3 best results, and the third best result is of 22 points, which means that every result better than 33rd position at World Cup Finals he will add points to his ranking. Rustim Sabirkhouzine competed at 2004 Olympics for Russia, and now is representing Kazakhstan; standing in 39th position in the Olympic ranking and having as third best result 26 points, he will have a hard task of making the deficit to claim a second spot for his country. Standing between Golis and Sabirkhouzine is American Samuel Sacksen; he is not competing at World Cup Final, so his chances at qualification seems slim.
Similar situation to Guatemalan Nikkos Papadopolo and 2008 silver medal Edvinas Krungolcas, from Lithuania, the next in the rankings that will miss the Chinese competition and can’t advance in the rankings.
Of those who still have hopes of qualifying are Irish Arthur Lanigan O’Keeffee (82 points) and Polish Szymon Staskiewicz (81 points), while above Golis in the rankings are Mexican Alvaro Sandoval (106 points) and Czech Ondrej Polivka (101 points) having to defend their positions.
Great Britain has a successful history in female’s Olympic pentathlon competitions (started at 2000 Sydney Olympic Games), with pentathletes in all podiums. Now they will host the Olympic Games and there were lot of contenders for the 2 spots in national team.
Last year youngster Freyja Prentice achieved the qualifying through the European Championships, and a second spot would come at 2012 World Championships or naturally through the rankings as British girls are crowding the top positions. Mhairi Spence clinched the world title and Samantha Murray grabbed bronze medal and made themselves eligible and made the national team. The other Olympic spot went to speedster Anastasia Prokopenko, from Belarus.
According to current rankings, countries that should enter two pentathletes are Hungary, China, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, France, Lithuania, United States, Russia, Poland, Italy, Ukraine, Canada and Belarus; countries with one spot are Brazil, Egypt, Australia, Latvia, South Korea, Mexico, Czech Republic and Ireland.
The last athlete in would be Belarusian Anastasia Yelizarova, in 44th position and with 81 points. In a domestic clash with Hanna Vasilionak (46th and 78 points) for the second spot of the country, both still will have to face some pentathletes that are close and will be at World Cup Final in China. The one who is more close to them is Guatemalan Marines Garza, with 78 points. American Michelle Kelly will try to improve her position at the rankings and claim American’s second spot, currently with Suzanne Stettinius.
Veteran Lucie Grolichova, from Czech Republic, will have to do the trick in Chengdu with a strong result and an eye on her rivals to make her second Olympic appearance, same as Finland and Bulgaria, with Laura Salminen and Polina Struchkova respectively, who look for a last minute qualifying. Even though they are currently below Grolichova in the standings, when we consider the replacement of third best result they will start ahead of the Czech, since they have granted at least 20 points. Korean Mina Jeong computed 75 points and since is missing World Cup Final will only have chances if other athletes pull out.
By Eduardo Valle