Pub worker Fell sips from silver jug
Saturday 23 August 2008
Whenever George Bush turned up to watch his American athletes, they seemed to win. But Gordon Brown? He had to make to do with watching a silver show in the modern pentathlon yesterday.
The 25-year-old Heather Fell, won that medal here last night for Britain, behind Germany's Lena Schoneborn and ahead of Ukraine's Victoria Tereshuk in third. She might argue that with a little more state funding to tide her over during long injury spells, she might have made the top of the podium instead.
Not that she or her fellow Briton, Katy Livingston, who finished seventh – after 12 hours of shooting, fencing, swimming, show-jumping and cross country running – were complaining.
"To have Great Britain come second and seventh is just amazing," said Fell, who knew she had a tough assignment in the run to make up a large deficit on Schoneborn. "I was going for it in the run, but I realised it wasn't going to happen. In the end, keeping ahead of third was my biggest worry, so it was a relief to get second. It was great fun.
Livingston said: "I can't complain with seventh. My fence was quite average today, but the other four events went well and I had a 'pb' in the swim. It's been brilliant being here."
Fell's silver medal extends Britain's successful recent record in modern pentathlon, having won medals at all three Games since the women's event was introduced.
Two years ago, Fell was considering quitting the sport after having to work in a pub and hold down other part-time jobs as well in order to finance her sporting life. Her funding was cut by UK Sport because she was struggling with long-term shin injuries that inevitably affected her results.
She left Bath, where many elite athletes are based at the university's superb sports centre, and moved back home to Tavistock. Then she had a change of heart, deciding to carry on as a self-financed athlete.
"I'm glad I changed my mind," she said. "When my funding was cut I couldn't afford to live in Bath and I wasn't really welcome there anymore. I didn't feel abandoned by the system, but it did give me a kick up the backside.
"My parents said they would support me. I had three part-time jobs – teaching swimming, a bit of physio and working in a pub. I got over my injuries and I fitted the swimming, riding and running around working. The fencing and shooting dropped a bit.
"I got my foot back in the door, things started going right and I won a silver medal at the European Championships last summer to qualify for the Olympics." Her funding then resumed.
Yesterday, she was sixth after the shooting and moved up to second with her sword as the Prime Minister watched. Fell's parents, Nick and Doreen, were not there. They had overslept, through jet-lag.
"They pretended they were too nervous to watch, but I think they slept through their alarm," said their daughter.
Before the 3,000m run, Fell had maintained second place, but she knew she would have to cover the distance 19 seconds faster than the German leader. The run has a staggered start, arranged via points accumulated, so whoever crosses the line first wins.
Fell began the run with a 19-second deficit on Schoneborn, and halved it. It was not enough for gold, but it was good enough for a fourth modern pentathlon women's medal in three Games.
Petr Cech demands talks over Chelsea future as Thibaut Courtois begs him to stay – as mentor
Angel Di Maria: Manchester United to push ahead with £50m move for Real Madrid winger
Marcos Rojo to Manchester United: Sporting Lisbon confirm deal with Nani heading back to Portugal on loan
Sami Khedira to Arsenal: Midfield omitted from Real Madrid squad for Spanish Super Cup
David Gold furious after Carlton Cole parody account mocks up a picture of West Ham chairman as a suspect in the Madeleine McCann case
- 1 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
- 3 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
- 4 Nicki Minaj finally releases predictable 'Anaconda' video
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women