It was a perfect day for Russian star Ilia Frolov with the 30-year-old showing his quality and speed to take gold in the Men’s World Cup #3 Final at the state of the art facilities of the Pierre de Coubertin Modern Pentathlon Stadium in Chengdu. Quietly efficient throughout the competition, after coming joint first in the fence, it was his stunning performance in the combined that made the difference as he clinched an impressive victory.
The pentathletes had got the action underway on the fencing pistes with Frolov making his mark early on. His experience, skills with the epee and quickness of thought saw him dominate on his way to sharing top spot with Hungary’s Robert Kasza, each having won 25 bouts. Frolov and Kasza would be two of star performers in what was a fascinating Final.
In the second discipline of the day, the 200m freestyle swim, a time of 2:08.40 gave Frolov 315 points. A good ride around the tricky course then put him back in contention for honours as he moved up to sixth overall in the general classification.
Before the run/shoot, Egypt’s Amro El Geziry was out front but in the combined Frolov really turned on the style, shooting with great accuracy and seemingly gliding round the course effortlessly, overtaking five of his rivals on his way to a sumptuous gold.
Kasza, who had been brilliant all day, having come third in the pool after clocking 2:00.95 and placing 11th in the ride, had begun the combined in second place. He however could not match Frolov for speed in the final few moments as the Russian crossed the finish tape first. The silver sure put a smile on Kasza’s face, the Hungarian was out of action for a good portion of last season and this medal confirms his return to full fitness and hungry for success.
Bronze went to Jianli Guo as the crowd celebrated a well-deserved medal for the home nation. Guo was a model of consistency throughout the day with two fifth places finishes in the fence and swim, and a ninth place in the ride putting him third overall at the start the combined. The Chinese impressed in his last competitions and this medal was just reward for some of the displays already this year.
El Geziry was unlucky to miss out on a podium finish in Chengdu. After winning the swim with a sub-2min time, a classy ride gave the Egyptian a total of 297 points to start the combined in pole. Although he showed improvement in his shooting from previous performances, El Geziry could not maintain his advantage and ended his day fourth.
There were two Hungarians in the top five at the end of competition as Bence Demeter, son of 89 European Champion Jozsef, finished just behind El Geziry. Russia’s Aleksander Lesun was sixth overall as World No.1 Justinas Kinderis, who struggled in the equestrian event but put in a great time in the combined, came seventh. Korean duo Woojin Lee and Woongtae Jun were 8th and 9th respectively as Egypt’s Yasser Hefny finished tenth.
London 2012 silver medallist Zhaohong Cai from China was 12th overall and was the only athlete in the Final to record a perfect ride and collect 300 points in that discipline. His compatriot Jiahao Han, the second fastest swimmer, came in 16th. Mexico’s Manuel Padilla, victorious in his qualification group, was the quickest around the combined but having started so far behind the leaders ended his campaign in 27th position.