GB women hoping to make it four in a row in pentathlon

 

How better for Britain to end this Olympic Games than with one of their strongest events? The final gold medal to be handed out, before the closing ceremony this evening, will be in the women's modern pentathlon.

This curious collection of disciplines does not have much of a media profile in Britain. There has always been a feeling that it is the property of the rest of Europe. Created by the father of the Olympics Baron de Coubertin, started at the 1908 Olympic Games in Stockholm, and dominated by Hungary, Sweden and Russia, this combination of fencing, swimming, horse-riding, running and shooting has not traditionally been a British strength.

Until, that is, the women's version was introduced at the Sydney Games of 2000, when Britain's Stephanie Cook won gold and Kate Allenby bronze. Britain took medals in the next two competitions too, with Georgina Harland taking bronze in Athens and Heather Fell silver in Beijing. Britain is the only country to have won medals in all three women's competitions.

They have a good chance of making it four in a row today. Mhairi Spence, from Inverness, is the reigning world champion in both individual and team events and the world No 2. After all the successes of British athletes over the last two weeks, there is a good chance of a glorious climax at some point this evening.

Cook, 12 years on from her famous gold medal in this event, believes that the crowd can make all the difference. "There's nothing like a home Olympics and that makes the difference here," she says. "We've seen through the Games so far how the support from the crowd has really lifted all of the British competitors. It is a question of feeding off that energy of the crowd and actually using it in a positive way to get that extra bit out of your body and your mind, to be able to perform at your absolute best."

When Cook won her gold she did so on the other side of the world. Spence and Samantha Murray now have the chance to do so at home, and Cook knows how much of a benefit that will be. "I was very lucky to have the opportunity to compete in Sydney," she adds. "That is regarded as one of the best Games of recent times. It was a fantastic competition. I'm sure it's every athlete's dream to have the chance of competing at a home Games. It wasn't the right timing for me but for the athletes competing here it's just the most fantastic opportunity."

With such an impressive body of work behind British female pentathletes, Cook is confident that their legacy can continue in London today. "Our track record from 2000, when women were first included in the Olympics, has proven that the British women pentathletes are really very strong," she says. "The fact that Heather Fell, the silver medallist from Beijing, did not actually qualify herself a spot for London is testament to how strong our British squad is. There's a lot of pressure on them. I hope they can continue that medal run into London."

If there is one complication, it is a change to the format this year. The shooting and running have been brought together into one final combined event, meaning that competitors will finish with a task they are fairly unfamiliar with.

"I think it's really important for the British girls to get a good fence under their belts and then have that to build on through the rest of the competition," advises Cook. "The pressure going into the final combined event, especially with the shooting, can really get to the athletes so it does leave it very open."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn