Pentathlon GB’s Performance Director Jan Bartu hailed his ‘Blue Army’ after a record-breaking performance in the World Cup semi finals at Medway Park.
Britain will have eight athletes competing in the final on Sunday after local girl Kate French’s excellent performance in her debut senior international event.
French was joined by Freyja Prentice, Katy Livingston, Heather Fell, Mhairi Spence, Lydia Rosling, Katy Burke and Samantha Murray, meaning almost quarter of the field will be representing the home nation.
Bartu said: “To have eight athletes in the top 36 is a unique acheivement for any country. Not being big-headed but there is no other nation currently with such a depth of competition.
“That does not mean we are the best in the world. We have a lot of competition within the team which helps them because it makes them perform better,” he added.
Spence, who qualified second in her heat, acknowledged that she had qualified comfortably and that there was still a lot of work to be done for the final.
Bartu agreed, saying: “They need to regroup now and reset their minds because the final is a completely different ball-game.
“There is much more intensity and competition because all of the best athletes will raise their games,” he added.
Although not wanting to pick out an individual to praise, it was clear who the star of the day had been.
Local girl Kate French, who has never even competed in a junior international event before, did fantastically to storm into the final on her senior international debut.
Bartu said: “Kate is a different chapter altogether. She is very young, has just moved to Bath and she is bridging from the development programme to performance programme so [getting to the final] is fantastic.”
There was a nervy wait before French’s qualification had been confirmed and her fellow athletes were quick to join in with the praise.
Spence said: “This is her first World Cup and is her home soil. A lot of the youngsters come into it just to get some experience so to make the final is just amazing; we are all really pleased for her.”
Bartu is looking forward to a ‘smashing’ final on Sunday, saying: “The rest of the rest of the world will see this and do whatever they can to stop this blue army dominating the events.”
Report written by David Brenchley. Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com
photos Janos Schmidt