In her first international competition since the London 2012 Olympic Games, Germany’s Lena Schoneborn looks relaxed and controlled. Having placed second in the fence and eleventh in the pool, the 27-year-old reigning world Champion began the Group A combined event third overall. Confidently and without fuss, she found her aim and set a good pace around the course to overtake those before her just before the last round of shooting, setting her on her way to a stylish first place finish.
She will now be one of the favourites for gold come Saturday.
France’s Elodie Clouvel was first at the start of the combined after her second places in both the fence and swim and was looking very strong. She could not match Schoneborn’s precision with the pistol but was in impressive form and was delighted as she crossed the finish line in second place to cap a solid day for herself.
Experienced Latvian Elena Rublevska, who was victorious in the fence earlier in the day with 25 bouts won, placed third overall whilst the Russian pair of Anna Savchenko and Ekaterina Khuraskina came fourth and fifth respectively. Korea’s Mina Jeong just managed to squeeze into sixth position in a very tight finish.
Swim winner Samantha Murray just could not find her aim and was the shock elimination of these Qualifications with the British Olympic silver medallist not making the final cut.
In Group B, Great Britain’s Mhairi Spence, unlike her compatriot, impressed. Her razor-sharp shooting and brisk running in the combined ensured she caught with Gloria Tocchi from Italy on the last lap to claim top spot. The 27-year-old was all smiles at the end, declaring, “I am feeling good. It is only my second competition since the Olympic Games so I am slowly getting back to my level”. On her ambitions in the Hungarian capital, she added, “Top six is the aim but soon I’ll be challenging for medals”.
Jan Bartu, Pentathlon GB Performance Director, said he was pleased with Spence’s performance following her underwhelming 33rd place finish at World Cup #2 in Rio in March, declaring, “Mhairi’s performance in Rio was not up to her expectations and today she showed her fighting spirit and pulled it together under pressure.”
Tocchi had been, until the last lap of the course, the dominant force in the combined with some near-perfect shooting. The teenager, who was competing at Junior level last season, was the fastest in the swim in Group B, and now looks like a very bright prospect at this level. In this mood, she could challenge for a podium finish in the Final.
Finland’s Laura Salminen was the surprise package in Qualification with the 26-year-old coming third following a good day started with a twelfth place in the pool and a third place in the fence. Positions four and five were claimed by Victoria Tereshuk and Hungary’s Leila Gyenesei respectively as the Czech Republic’s Barbora Kodedova made up the top six.
Swim winner Zsofia Foldhazi finished ninth whilst World Cup #2 Rio winner Margaux Isaksen overcame some pistol issues to finish in eleventh position.
Friday 10 May sees the Men's Qualifications take place.