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Modern pentathletes receive Olympic call-up

Georgina Harland and Kate Allenby (pictured) will be representing Great Britain in the Modern Pantathlon at Athens in August, it has been announced by the British Olympic Association.

The modern pentathlon involves five phases: shooting, fencing, swimming, riding and running. The event starts at crack of dawn with the shooting, when competitors are expected to fire twenty shots at a target 10 metres away, with a maximum available score of 10 per shot.

An original duelling weapon, the epee, is used in the fencing and every competitor fights every other competitor for one minute, aiming to achieve one hit.

By lunchtime, competitiors are in the pool, where they are expected to complete a 200m sprint swim in as fast a time as possible. Then they squeeze into their jodhpurs and get set for the riding event.

The 1.20m course includes 12 show jumps, a double and a treble. Riders are allocated horses out of a hat and have a twenty minute warm-up session before they go into the arena.

“Riding a horse you’ve never ridden before is quite tough, considering the time allowed for getting to know them, but these days, especially at the bigger competitions, the horses are standardised,” explains Kate Allenby. “The Olympic horses have been trained specifically for the purpose for the last two years.”

The running is the final event. The highest-placed competitor at this stage sets off first, and others set off subsequently, their deficit in points translated into seconds.

“It is my least favourite phase,” says Kate. “I neither am, nor will I ever be the same shape as Paula Radcliffe, and yet so much can depend on it.”

Kate was an individual silver medallist at the Modern Pentathlon World Championships in Moscow at the beginning of June, and has high hopes for the British team in Athens. “Georgie [Harland] is No.1 in the world, and as long as we are on form, we have a very good chance of taking home a medal.”

Dominic Mahoney, team leader for Athens 2004 Olympic Games, is equally confident: “Georgie Harland and Kate Allenby have achieved the Olympic qualifying standard comfortablly, and this season have shown why they are both contenders for medals in Athens.

“Georgie has been the world No.1 ranked athlete for most of the year and won the pentathlon test event in Athens last December, and Kate put in a stunning performance at last month’s world championships to win the individual silver medal. Both athletes are in great shape and looking forward to Athens in August,” he added.

Kate has announced that she will retire at the end of the year, having competed internationally for over ten years. She started off as a tetrathlete at Pony Club aged ten, progressing to the more challenging demands of the modern pentathlon when she was graduated from the Pony Club.

“I have been competing since I was ten,” she says, “and it is time for me to do some of the other things I want to do with me life!”

GB Modern Pentathlon team:
Georgina Harland
Kate Allenby
Jo Clarke (reserve)

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