Cooke seeking Olympics boost in Rome

10 May 2012 / 08:45

World junior champion Jamie Cooke is hoping to fence his way back into pole position for a place in Great Britain's Olympic modern pentathlon team at the World Championships in Rome this weekend.

The 21-year-old had a stunning 2011, becoming the only British man so far to achieve the Olympic qualifying standard with fourth place at the European Championships in Kent and then finishing off the year with his junior title in Argentina.

That put Cooke firmly on course for one of the two places available to British men at the Games, but 2012 has not begun in the manner he would have wanted.

Cooke came to the sport late having previously been purely a swimmer, and it has been a steep learning curve trying to master show jumping, shooting, running and, in particular, fencing.

The Cheltenham athlete said: "I'm very inexperienced so I'm very naive on the piste. For the first year you're new so no one knows what you're going to do, but by the second year they've worked you out.

"When you're losing it's like a vicious circle and you retreat into yourself. Confidence is the main things. But me and my coach have been working a lot on it and my confidence is coming back."

Cooke, the fastest swimmer in the sport's history, has been working hard in training and hopes that will pay off in Rome, where his campaign will begin on Friday in the semi-finals.

"I had a fantastic year last year, everything went well, and this year everything's slightly harder, but I've learned a lot from the bad experiences," he said. "There's been some really good things that have happened but there's just been some major disasters. Hopefully I can turn it round and have a good World Championships.

"In some ways qualifying last year put the pressure on to keep performing. I might have been affected by that but I wouldn't change it."

Cooke's rivals for the Olympic spots are Nick Woodbridge and Sam Weale, both of whom competed in Beijing four years ago.