Pentathletes step up Olympic bid

01 May 2012 / 18:48

Britain's modern pentathletes face the most important test of their Olympic credentials next week when they head to Rome for the World Championships.

All seven athletes heading to the Italian capital are in contention for the four spots available in London this summer, two in the men's competition and two in the women's.

A medal in Rome would meet the selection criteria and would almost certainly guarantee a place at the Games, while there are also big ranking points available.

Mhairi Spence, a silver medallist at the first World Cup of the year in the USA, and Nick Woodbridge are in pole position at the moment, with both occupying top-10 positions in the world rankings.

Youngsters Freyja Prentice and Jamie Cooke are the only British athletes to have met the selection criteria so far courtesy of top-eight finishes at last year's European Championships in Kent.

But other athletes will certainly match that through the rankings, and both Prentice and Cooke, who is the world junior champion, have struggled so far this season.

They will get another chance in Rome, while the team is made up by Olympic silver medallist Heather Fell and Samantha Murray in the women's line-up and Sam Weale in the men's.

Murray has been the athlete to really make a leap forward this year and she will hope to build on three top-10 World Cup finishes, including a bronze medal in Russia last month.

Pentathlon GB performance director Jan Bartu said: "I think they will be under tremendous pressure at the World Championships. It looks like it will go down to the wire, but this is the ultimate test for the Olympic Games.

"They need to keep it all together in Rome when they will be competing against other very determined athletes who will also feel the World Championships are their last chance to qualify for the Games."