Ukrainian Tereshuk captures women gold in Palm Springs modern pentathlon
Reprinted from the Palm Springs Desert Sun
Victoria Tereshuk thought her storied career as one of the best athletes to compete for Ukraine was coming to a close.
The 2011 World Champion in Modern Pentathlon had already been part of two Olympic Games, got married, had a son, then decided to give it a try once again in London. However, her third Olympic trip was not what she expected, so it was time to decide.
After finishing 23rd in last summer’s Olympic Games, Tereshuk discussed her training with her husband and returned to competition again.
On Saturday, the 31-year-old blew past the leaders in the final 100 meters of the World Cup of Modern Pentathlon. Tereshuk beat out China’s Xiaonan Zhang, who had opened the women’s final with a world record in fencing and held on to the top spot through the first three events of the five discipline sport.
Tereshuk also passed reigning Olympic bronze medalist Yane Marques of Brazil en route to gold.
“After the Olympic Games, I’m thinking I’m getting old and will finish my career,” said a stunned Tereshuk, who won Olympic bronze in Beijing in 2008 and was seventh in Athens in 2004. “I sit at home and cook the meals and my husband says, maybe you try. Now in this competition, I think he was right to start training.”
Zhang, 20, who was making her international debut in her first trip to the United States, posted a near-perfect performance. She began the day with a world record 30-5 win-loss mark in fencing, was solid in the swim and only dropped 60 points on the ride. She battled tough competition from eventual bronze winner Marques throughout the day, but stayed on top of the standings to start the final event of the combined (run-shoot).
However, it was the veteran Tereshuk who outpaced the younger field in the end despite starting with a 24-second handicap. Tereshuk placed seventh in fencing, 14th in the swimming and scored 1,160 points out of a possible 1,200 in the show jump where seven riders posted perfect riding marks.
She needed her best performance in the combined where the athletes run four legs of 800 meters and in between shoot a target with a laser pistol.
“My first shoot series was mistakes, but then I made less mistakes and I ran fast at the end for the gold medal,” Tereshuk said. “It’s a surprise for me, but I’m very happy.”
With the first World Cup meet of the year in the books, Tereshuk says she’s looking too far ahead. She’ll take each competition as it comes. Rio de Janiero is the next World Cup stop, but the 2016 Olympic Games, also in Rio, is not on her radar.
“I’m not looking to Rio because four years is too much,” she said. “I don’t know now. Maybe.”
The two Americans in the final field, sisters Margaux and Isabella Isaksen, finished out of medal contention.
Margaux was having a strong start in fencing (fourth), but slowed in the swim, battled back in the ride (14th) and was slowed again in the laser shoot.
Although her run was solid, the misses at the shoot sent her to seventh overall. Her sister, competing for the first time in the senior, elite-level competition finished 29th.
The final day of World Cup action is today and features the first Mixed Relay in a World Cup event. The modern pentathlon union (UIPM) is looking for the mixed event to be a medal sport in Rio.