Prentice a step closer to Olympic place

Freyja Prentice, who finished 8th overall in the European Pentathlon Championships in Kent. (Picture by Steve Ballinger, Matchtight)
Freyja Prentice, who finished 8th overall in the European Pentathlon Championships in Kent. (Picture by Steve Ballinger, Matchtight)

LOCAL pentathlete Freyja Prentice achieved the London 2012 Olympic qualifying standard at the Modern Pentathlon European Championships on Sunday, (July 31).

Freyja, who is originally from the Chapel of Garioch, produced a battling run/shoot to climb from 12th place to eighth to achieve the qualifying standard at Medway Park in Kent.

She became the second British pentathlete to achieve the standard following 20-year-old Jamie Cooke’s fourth place in the men’s competition on Saturday, (July 30).

Freyja proved the best of the quartet of Brits who were competing for a top-eight finish in the women’s competition at the Europeans.

“I’m so happy,” said Prentice, who went into the championships as world junior number one. “The pressure on the British girls to get those places has been immense.

“I let myself down in the ride today and my shooting didn’t help, but my running saved the day.”

Freyja, who combines training with studying for a Biology degree at the University of Bath, was locked in battle with the Russian pair of Ekaterina Khuraskina and Evdokia Gretchichnikova for eighth place throughout the run/shoot.

But she made sure of eighth on the final run, finishing two seconds ahead of Khuraskina and 13 seconds clear of Gretchichnikova.

A top-eight finish achieved the 2012 qualifying standard, although a ninth place also became available when Lena Schoneborn took gold, she has already qualified by winning the World Cup Final in London three weeks ago.

Freyja credited the British crowd with playing a major role in helping her to eighth. “They were immense,” she said. “The roar I got spurred me on so much. It was a race for eighth place and the crowd helped me so much on the last lap, so I’d like to thank them.

“Everyone is congratulating me, but there are a lot of competitions left and with the standard of our girls we could absolutely do well at the world championships. I know I’m going in the right direction though.”

Jan Bartu, Pentathlon GB Performance Director, said, “Freyja is focussed, motivated and talented and she has proved she can compete in the big competitions. It was nice to have a happy ending.”

He said the team will learn from the experience of the European Championships and then prepare to compete again at the World Championships in Moscow in September, where the top-three finishers achieve the 2012 qualifying standard.

“We said at the beginning of the season that this would be the ultimate task for us and I can’t imagine it will be any easier in London next year,” he said.

“The girls need to look at themselves objectively. We need to have a good debrief and move on. It’s a learning experience. From now on we have to try to qualify more athletes, that’s our objective.”

Although Prentice and Cooke have achieved the London 2012 qualifying standard, it doesn’t guarantee them places at 2012. A maximum of two athletes per gender per country can compete in the modern pentathlon competition at the London 2012 Games and the qualification period runs up to June 2012.

European Champ-ionships results

Women’s individual competition: Gold: Lena Schoneborn (GER) 5600 pts; Silver: Adrienn Toth (HUN) 5548 pts; Bronze: Victoria Tereshuk (UKR) 5536 pts; 8th: Freyja Prentice (GBR) 5436 pts; 23rd: Heather Fell (GBR) 5100 pts; 28th: Katy Burke (GBR) 5040 pts; 33rd: Mhairi Spence (GBR) 4812 pts;