I’m just travelling home from Sarasota, Florida from the first Pentathlon World Cup of the 2015 season. This competition marked the beginning of the qualification period for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, so it was highly anticipated by everyone in the sport. With a full Canadian contingent and a few Canadian supporters, I was eager to compete and see how all my base training would pay off. The women’s field was very strong with 85 competitors and only the top 36 making it on to the final, so I knew every point would count. Unfortunately, I started out with a sub-par fencing event, which is usually where I set myself up for the rest of the day. I was a little bit nervous and struggled to find my comfort zone on the piste. There’s always another event, so it was on to the pool where I held my own in the 200m swim and then it was off to the combined event to climb the rankings. The combined event (run + shoot) was set up right along the beach. Along with gusting winds, the sand made the running conditions extreme which I didn’t mind, hoping I could tough it out better than the rest. I moved up a few spots in the ranking but it was not enough. Of course, all the athletes were close, and I just missed out on the final. It was a disappointing finish, but I would not let it discourage me as the mixed relay was yet to come a few days later.
Competing with my long-time teammate Josh Riker-Fox, we set out on the mixed relay with something to prove and some revenge to be had. I was eager to improve my fencing result, so I turned up the heat and turned down the little voices inside my head. With each victory I scored edging me on, I was back to feeling like myself behind the mask. Josh and I finished 5th overall in the fence. The swimming event jostled the athletes’ positions, but mostly kept the scores close. Next was the fencing bonus round where we can earn extra points while fencing in a ladder format. The rules are simple, if you win you stay on piste and get to keep fencing until you lose. Together, Josh and I beat the Italian and Argentinean teams, but were defeated by Russians in an exciting bout. The riding event followed, and after a smooth (but short) warm up, we knew we could post a competitive ride and move up a few positions. With only one rail penalty, this meant we would start in 4th for the combined event with the top 10 teams all within 40 seconds of one another. A close race was sure to come! The women always start first in each event, so it was up to me to get our team in a position where Josh could fight for a medal. After nailing my targets, I ran as hard as I could into 3rd place through the sandy course to create a gap and tag my teammate. Josh battled hard on his leg of the race and jostled positions a few times. I was screaming on the sidelines encouraging him to run faster and letting him know Mexico, USA and China were close behind. He’s a gutsy runner, so as soon as he was on the final 800m, he pulled away from the pack and left them in his dust…literally. It was gold for the Russians, silver for the Irish and bronze for the Canadians!!!
It was such a fantastic and rewarding day to finish on the podium with the bronze medal. Coach John Hawes steered us in the right direction all day and we couldn’t have done it without him, of course. This is the first World Cup Relay medal for Canada and won’t be the last! Thank you for all the on going words of support and congratulations. It’s the fuel to my fire!
- Scan to 47:40 to watch Canada fencing in the ladder
- 2:21:00 for Canada riding
- 3:54:00 for the start of the combined event.
I’m back at home in Ottawa with work to do before the next competition.