Kate French wins gold in modern pentathlon for Team GB


ate French had promised her Rio experience would hold her in good stead when it came to Tokyo, and so it proved as she took an 18th gold for Team GB at these Games.

The 30-year-old had been within a whisker of a medal at the last Olympics but had to make do with fifth place, the same position she began the deciding laser run 15 seconds behind the leader in the modern pentathlon

But after a slow and steady start, she increasingly dominated the event finale, reeling in the runners ahead of her and picking off the targets with the laser shooting to have a solo run to the line for gold.

It was Britain’s second modern pentathlon Olympic champion after Steph Cook back in Sydney back in 2000.

French had been almost obsessive with her preparation for the laser shoot, the last off the range in pre-race practice, a move that paid off as she became increasingly consistent with gun in hand. She hit 20 of 22 targets, including her final 10.

It was a far cry from the first lockdown where she was consigned to practice her fencing alone in a field full of daffodils.

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More than a year on inside Tokyo Stadium, habitually a football stadium but converted into a modern pentathlon stadium for the day’s competition, she had stayed in contention throughout.

She was among the top performers in the swimming and showjumping – a few time penalties in that – and steady enough in the fencing meaning she was left with that 15s to make up on Uliana Batashova, of the Russian Olympic Committee, over the course of the laser run.

Batashova was quickly swallowed up by the chasing pack after the first run, French starting the run slowly to keep a steady hand for the opening shoot and building her pace to the line to win by 16s.

Afterwards, French said: “I actually don’t know what just happened – I can’t believe it right now. I just knew I had to focus, and I knew I could do it if I focused on my shooting and ran as fast as I could. Thanks to my team supporting here and to my family at home. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

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