Harland salvages medal from wreckage

Britain'S Georgina Harland salvaged a precious bronze from the wreckage of a terrible start in the modern pentathlon here yesterday. She did so with a brilliant final run reminiscent of Stephanie Cook's gold-clinching 3,000m in Sydney four years ago.

Britain'S Georgina Harland salvaged a precious bronze from the wreckage of a terrible start in the modern pentathlon here yesterday. She did so with a brilliant final run reminiscent of Stephanie Cook's gold-clinching 3,000m in Sydney four years ago.

"I am so chuffed... really, really chuffed," Harland said, revealing that her preparations have "not been fantastic at all" because of the beginnings of a stress fracture in her right leg. "But I've just had to concentrate on what I believe in," she said.

After the first four events - shooting, fencing, swimming and show-jumping - Harland was lying in 14th place in the 32-woman field. That meant she started the cross-country run with a massive 1min 31sec handicap behind the leader, Zsuzsanna Voros, and a deficit of 49 seconds to make up to reach the podium at all.

Yet the Bath-based 26-year-old, ranked No 1 in the world, seemed to relish the challenge of her favourite discipline and clocked 10min 17.31sec, the day's quickest time by a margin of more than 27 seconds. Her time was sufficient for her to overhaul 11 other athletes who started the run ahead of her.

The run has a staggered start that reflects the points positions after four events, meaning whoever crosses the line first is the overall winner. Quick though Harland's time was, it was not enough to get ahead of Voros, of Hungary, who took gold, or Jelena Rublevska of Latvia, who took silver.

Harland, who went to the Sydney Games as a reserve and watched her teammates Cook and Kate Allenby win gold and bronze, was evidently delighted to leave with any medal at all last night. She smiled through tears on the podium and then beamed with delight as he hugged and kissed friends and supporters.

"I am just really, really shocked," she said of having managed to retrieve a medal. Having gone from being one of the pre-Games favourites to gold, it seemed unlikely before the run that she would win anything at all.

"The beginning was really shaky this morning but I always know I have got that run at the end, and the swim and the ride," she said. "It's the Olympics and to get a medal is just fantastic. Just to be up there on the podium is a dream come true. On the last lap I knew it was going to be mine."

Voros, the current and twice former world champion, was never going to be caught in the run. Her advantage was so substantial that she was able to stop and collect a Hungarian flag at the side of the course before jogging to the finish.

Allenby had a less satisfying day which was almost the reverse of Harland's. She started well and even moved into the silver medal position after the swim of her career in the afternoon. But then she suffered the agony of a sluggish horse that contributed to her messing up one of her strongest events, the show-jumping, just when a podium position was in her sights.

She subsequently started the run in seventh place overall, with a 1min 1sec handicap behind Voros. She finished the race - and the event - in eighth place.

Harland's day started badly in the shooting, which is not one of her strongest disciplines at the best of times. This year particularly she has had some nervy, below-par starts with the air pistol and those jitters were magnified yesterday. Harland finished the opening event - 20 shots at a target 10m away - in 30th place of 32. She registered the single lowest score on the range, a three (out of 10) with her eighth shot.

"This morning it was all a bit rusty but in the pentathlon you never give up," she said.

"There was pressure on me to get a medal and maybe I lost it a bit in the shooting at the beginning but that's me. I like to keep everyone on tenterhooks right to the end."

Allenby, the only medallist from the inaugural women's modern pentathlon in 2000 to be back for these Games, was 19th after the shooting competition but then climbed the table after coming second in the fencing competition, her strongest event. Every competitor fights everyone else once, for a maximum of one minute, with one hit needed for a win. Allenby won 21 of her 31 bouts. Harland finished with figures of 16-15 to leave her in 26th place overall when the epees were downed.

Both Britons' fortunes looked up when the action moved to the pool, where Allenby swam her 200 metres freestyle heat in a personal best of 2min 17.41sec. That was enough to move her to second overall.

Harland's day started to come good when she clocked 2min 14.60sec in the pool, the second-fastest time of the day, to move up into 19th place.

The show-jumping, on randomly-drawn horses, went pear-shaped for Allenby as she knocked down seven fences and finish penalty-laden in 25th place in the event. Harland had a decent round, finishing sixth in the event to move to 14th overall ahead of her run.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen