LYDGATE’S Olivia Green and Joseph Choong claimed Great Britain’s second gold medal of UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Cup Budapest.
The British duo triumphed in the mixed relay after finding themselves locked in a thrilling duel with Sarolta Simon and Balazs Szep of host nation Hungary.
It was not until the last 300 metres of the final lap of the laser run that world number one Choong pulled away from Szep to seal the victory.
Great Britain’s gold medal followed the gold and silver won by Kate French and Joanna Muir respectively in the women’s individual final for which Olivia failed to qualify.
Oliva, 21, who had a hugely successful career in junior competition, was making her debut in seniors’ World Cup events.
And it was Olivia’s first major international for more than a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Olivia and Joseph started well with victory in the swimming with the fastest time by more than one second.
They. did not feature among the leaders in the fencing but they produced excellent showjumping rounds.
That meant Simon and Szep started the laser run with the slimmest possible advantage – one second – over Olivia and Joseph.
As expected, the laser run was a two-horse race, but what a race as Olivia and Simon stayed within five seconds of each other throughout their two circuits, with Oliva pulling away slightly at the end to give Joseph a little breathing space.
Joseph, the men’s world number one, managed the situation expertly, refusing to lose his cool even when Szep cut the gap almost to nothing at the shooting range. They played cat and mouse on the final lap but Szep did not have enough to keep pace with Joseph who confidently moved ahead in the final stages to win by four seconds.
Celebrating her first senior UIPM medal, Olivia said: “It feels great. We’ve been training hard for the past few months and it’s starting to pay off and I’m very excited.”
Asked about the difference in standard from junior to senior level, she said: “It’s mad – especially the fencing, which is on another level.
“And in the laser run you just can’t afford to miss a shot. I used to be able to catch people with my run but not at this level.”
UIPM president Dr Klaus Schormann said: “After two very successful individual finals, 14 teams competed at a very high level in the mixed relay and there was an exciting finish between Hungary and Great Britain.
“The mixed relay is a format we need to support so that it can be in the future programme of the Olympic Games.”
It had been a challenging 12 months for Olivia, who is Bath University where the elite modern pentathletes are based and where she is studying for a degree in sport and exercise science.
Olivia’s father Chris explained: “When the initial lockdown happened, all the training centres were closed.
“Olivia was able to keep running and did open water swimming in a river.
“However, she didn’t realise there was sewage in the water and picked up a bacterial infection which made her quite ill for one week.”
Once the initial lockdown was lifted, Olivia has been able to resume training as she is an elite athlete.
Olivia was in Bulgaria this week after being selected for back-to-back UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Cup events in Sofia.