Who is going to win?
“In the men’s competition, it’s hard to look beyond the Russians.” Was the words of Team GB’s team manager, Dominic Mahony, but the sentiments of many who follow modern pentathlon.
And what a pair of athletes representing Russia at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Andrei Moiseev is going for his third consecutive Olympic gold medal, having triumphed in Beijing and Athens. If Moiseev manages to do this, he will be the first ever Pentathletes to do this in history, as it is only him and Lars Hall (SWE) who have successfully defeated their titles . This will also keep Russian’s Olympic gold medal streak alive which stretches back to 2000 where Svatkovsky won in Sydney.
Moiseev’s suffered a leg injury in a car accident in 2009, which hampered his performances until early 2011. But since then he has been back in good form, winning last year’s World Championships and finishing second in this year’s event.
Now 33, Moiseev is back up to second in the world rankings and victory here in London would be a fitting climax to a remarkable career.
But he is not the Russian athlete most fancied for the Olympic title. 24-year-old Aleksander Lesun has dominated competition this year with victories on both World Cup #2 and the World Championships. Don’t be surprised if Lesun is leading the field after the fencing – a real strength for Lesun.
28-year-old Hungarian Adam Marosi has been a consistent performer over the past three years and a good performance in the Aquatics Centre and in the riding could put him in contention for a dream gold medal. Marosi’s team mate Robbie Kasza will be filled with confidence, as last time he entered Greenwich Park he left with gold, so he will certainly think he can do it again. Also on Kasza’s side was his injury that ruled him out the first part of the year which forced him to rest. He looked very fresh at the European Championships and will push the Russians all the way.
Boh Marosi & Kasza, will wat to keep up the proud Hungarian Pentathlon tradition which they have 9 gold medals, the most of any nation.
Britain’s Nick Woodbridge will be hoping a passionate home crowd can propel him onto the podium and is enjoying life in the Olympic village. He said: "I'm in the best shape I've been and I'm looking forward to it and I want to get on with it. It's great to have familiar faces and voices around." Woodbridge grabbed bronze at the World Cup Final at Greenwich Park last year, so he knows he is capable.
GB Performance Director Jan Bartu says Woodbridge is “particularly excited about competing at home” and tips him to start the combined event in the top six.
Among those capable of going for gold from further back in the field come the combined event is Italy’s Riccardo’s De Luca, who believes the hilly, grassed course at Greenwich Park will play into his hands. The 26-year-old has shown himself capable of wiping out big time deficits with his powerful running and is excited to be competing in his first Olympics.
“It’s all new’, he said. “It’s fantastic.” If he can fence his way he did at the European Championships and start within a minute of the leader in the combined event, he could again be at the top of the podium like the European Championships.
The big threat to the Europeans will be the 2 Korean boys, Jinwha Jung and Woojin Hwang. These 2, have slowly grown into serious medal threats and will be pushing to stop the Olympic European dominance.
The action gets underway at 0845 on Saturday for the men, with the women competing on Sunday - the final day of London’s Olympic Games.