Today we look at Poland and Korea.
Poland is a country with long tradition in modern pentathlon and qualified four athletes to London Games. Sylvia Gawlikowska (née Czwojdzinska) is the country’s biggest hope to clinch a medal, which would be the first in women’s competition. Gawlikowska is attending her third Olympic Games and as a solid performer for many years have been flirting with the podium in individual competitions in last two years, coming close but eventually not managing it.
The Polish, however, will try to put the experience together with good form to attack the podium again, this time in the big stage. Gawlikowska will pair with Katarzyna Wojcik in the inaugural event, fencing, and Wojcik may be happy with the Olympic spot she earned as a result of a big effort and don’t want to be an extra in the competition and achieve a good result. The Polish men’s team will count on Szymon Staskiewicz, from the Polish new generation willing to gain experience and confidence for the next seasons.
The Korean team is probably the most improved team in last Olympic cycle. Of course it didn’t come out of the blue, but the raise of the Korean team finally reached the seniors level with many medals and convincing performances from several athletes in the men’s field, which confirms their new status is no fluke.
Woojin Hwang, currently ranked as 6th in the world, and Jinhwa Jung, standing at 23rd place, will have the honour to represent their country in London and can be listed as medal contenders, since they claimed podium positions in the most important competitions this year.
22 years-old Hwang made his début in international competitions in 2009 and despite the few time in the circuit, collected a silver medal in this year’s World Cup Final in Chengdu, China, but his breakthrough in the seniors level was last year with a bronze medal at the strong WC#3 in Hungary. Jung almost clinched a medal in last year’s World Cup Final in London, and this year surprised by winning a third place in the World Championships in Rome, Italy.
Their teammate Jin-woo Hong, who was the winner of 2011 Asia-Oceania Championships and currently ranked as 13th in the world, will be cheering on his fellows and have an eye on 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Korea will be represented in the women’s field by Soo-Jin Yang, who started the year in not good shape by narrowly missing the finals in two World Cups but is gaining form and produced her career best result in Chengdu at World Cup Final with a 6th place, which was her last competition heading to the Games.