It has been an enthralling Modern Pentathlon season so far amongst the men, with some brilliant competition making for some unpredictable results in 2013. Now the action is sure to be cranked up another notch as the UIPM World Championships Men’s Qualification stages get underway on Thursday 22 August in Chinese Taipei’s second largest city. The Fengshan Stadium in Kaohsiung will host 85 of the very best pentathletes from around the globe with some scintillating action guaranteed as they seek to write their name in the history books by becoming World Champion this Saturday.
After previewing the women, we now look at the main contenders for honours in the men’s draw. Some real talent will be competing for one of the sport’s ultimate prizes, one that will surely define their careers. With the cream of the crop all present in Taiwan, it will be one tough competition in searing heat and very humid conditions.
25-year-old Russian Aleksander Lesun, the reigning World Champion, who earlier this year was ranked World No.1, found his old swagger in the latter stages of this campaign as he came second in the Kremlin Cup and took bronze at the European Championships. With this timely confidence-boost, he will be eyeing the gold once more. The supreme fencer will be looking to dominate on the pistes as he has done so many times before throughout his career, and, if he can keep it together in the ride during the Final, he will be one of the frontrunners.
With two-time Olympic Champion Andrei Moiseev now retired, Ilya Frolov and Serguei Karyakin will ensure that the Russian Federation is one of the most talented teams in the competitions. Frolov, with victory at the Kremlin Cup in June, will know that he has what it takes to win, though his disappointing result at the Europeans could way heavy on his mind.
Podium finishes at every competition he has entered since his bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, including victories at World Cup #2 in Rio and at the Senior European Championships earlier this summer, makes World No.1 Adam Marosi the outstanding favourite in Taiwan. The 29-year-old is one of the most complete athletes of his generation and if he gets his own way with the epée, he could be very hard to stop in the combined.
His teammate Robert Kasza has come back into form after his shoulder injury sustained at World Cup #2, placing second at the Europeans and taking bronze at Kremlin Cup, so he will definitely be a major threat. Peter Tibolya is another Hungarian ranked in the Top 10 and could spring a surprise here. His presence also ensures his country will be in the running for Team gold.
The French squad is another will plenty of firepower, with World No.2 and one of the rising stars of the sport Valentin Prades leading a quality quartet at these World Championships. A seamless transition from the Junior to the Senior ranks has seen the teenager claim bronze at World Cup #2 and gold at the World Cup Final in Nizhny Novgorod. World No.8 Jean Maxcence Berrou, Christopher Patte and Valentin Belaud make up this formidable team.
A silver medal at World Cup Final moved Lithuania’s Justinas Kinderis up to fourth in the World rankings and he will have a great opportunity of getting into the top three if he gets a results in Kaohsiung. So keep your eye out for him to challenge for honours come Saturday.
Jinhwa Jun of Korea will himself be very keen to make an impact with the competition on Asian soil. The 24-year-old took bronze at the World Championships in Rome last year and will be gunning for a repeat of that performance in a season where he has under-performed by his high standards. Austria’s Thomas Daniel is another who will be seeking a result to make up for a campaign that has seen not finish out of the top ten at each competition.
Following a two-week training camp at altitude, the British team will be confident of achieving good results, not only in the Team competition but also individually. James Cooke, one of the hottest prospects to emerge from country in recent times and the Modern Pentathlon record-holder for fastest swims, showed his class by winning World Cup #4 in Budapest in April to move up to 7th in the World. He is joined in Taiwan by the experienced pair of London Olympians Nick Woodbridge and Sam Weale and another of Great Britain’s rising stars, Joseph Evans.
Veteran Deniss Cerkovskis of Latvia is an outside bet after proving he still has what it takes at this level by taking silver at World Cup #2 in Brazil. He told us, ‘I had good preparations and I feel strong. I still have a niggle in my achilles but I am very happy with my fitness’.
Italy’s Riccardo DeLuca has slowly been getting back into the groove and has the potential to do well if he gets it right in the fence whilst Pavlo Tymoshchenko of Ukraine is another who could impact the top of the leaderboard.
One notable absentee will be Olympic Champion David Svoboda from Czech Republic, after struggling with injury, he decided not to part take and now the hopes of his nation will lie with World No.19 Ondrej Polivka.
Looking around at the depth of talent on show in Kaohsiung, it is sure to be an unforgettable few days.
- Wednesday 21 August: Women's Qualification stages
- Thursday 22: Men's Qualifications stages
- Friday 23: Women's Final
- Saturday 24: Men's Final
- Sunday 25: Mixed Relay
- Monday 26: Women's Relay
- Tuesday 27: Men's Relay