Varsity triumph for modern pentathletes

Henny Dillon 25 April 2013

The Modern Pentathlon Varsity Match is a hotly contested competition, with 6 ladies and 6 gentlemen competing in the full pentathlon, and a further 3 ladies and 3 gentlemen competing in the Reserves’ swim, run and shoot.

The competition happens over 2 days, with the fencing and swimming on the first day, and the ride and combined run-shoot on the second.

The Cambridge ladies took a 22 hit lead in the fencing, giving themselves an impressive 880 point margin after one phase. Henny Dillon (Ladies’ Captain) broke the Varsity fencing record scoring 21/22 hits, with Laura Plant second on 18/22 hits. The ladies extended their lead by 1000 points in the swim, with 4 out of the 6 athletes coming in 1st-4th.

The Cambridge gentlemen took a 228 point lead in the fence, with Josh Radvan achieving the winning score of 16/22. Despite the swim winner coming from Cambridge’s Brad Dixon in 1:57.85, Oxford won the phase by 228 points – meaning that after day 1 the Cambridge and Oxford gentlemen were tied.

Despite Modern Pentathlon having a reputation for “exciting” riding rounds, this year only one rider out of 24 fell during their round (perhaps a record!). However combinations of other penalties meant that the Cambridge ladies ended up with a lead of 2768 points, while the Cambridge gentlemen fell behind by 564 points.

The combined event is a 3k race split into 1000m runs separated by pistol shooting. The shooting phase is timed, allowing separation of the event into run and shoot components.

In the ladies’ event Ali Simon broke the Varsity match shooting record, with an impressive total shoot time of 2:04, and the Cambridge ladies won the shoot phase by 152 points. Although Oxford won the run phase by 656 points, it was nowhere near enough to stop the Cambridge ladies claiming the overall Varsity title by an outstanding margin of 2264 points.

In the gentlemen’s competition, despite really strong performances across the board, Cambridge couldn’t overturn Oxford’s lead. Unfortunately this year the Cambridge men conceded defeat, however with only 1208 points in it this was certainly the closest the competition has been for a number of years.

In the individual competition, the Cambridge ladies took 1st, 2nd and 3rd, with 2012’s winner Henny Dillon defending her individual title, followed by Laura Plant in 2nd and Ali Simon in 3rd. Josh Radvan came in 2nd for the Cambridge gentlemen, while Ed Tusting (men’s captain) and Doug Morton achieved their full blue scores for the first time.

In the Reserves’ competition, Cambridge showed their strength and depth by winning both Reserves matches, by 288 and 1368 points in the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ competitions respectively. Alex Young came in 1st for the men, while Georgie Thompson won both the swim and combined event in the Ladies’ competition to win overall by over 170 points.

Previously, the Varsity match team records for the Ladies and Gentlemen stood at 24,009 and 28,616 points respectively. These records were both broken this year by the Cambridge teams, with the Ladies team scoring 24,464 and the Gentlemen scoring 29,020.

All members of the full teams also achieved either a half or full blue point score; a truly outstanding performance from all athletes.

Henny Dillon