In October, four Whitgift Modern Pentathlon Academy members travelled to Cape Town, South Africa, to take part in the 2017 Laser Run World Championships. It was the first time that Great Britain was taking part in the event, now only in its third year.
Whitgift’s Modern Pentathlon offering, which was granted Pentathlon GB academy status in 2014, has been open to external members, as of November 2016, enabling girls to take part for the first time. It was therefore a great honour for Luis Grainger and Sebastian Sparshott (U13 boys), Gabrielle Holland (U13 girls) and Connie Penlington (U11 girls) to represent Great Britain, as part of the 29-strong Pentathlon GB contingent. For all Whitgift athletes save for Gabrielle, who participated in a biathle tournament in September, this was their debut competition for Great Britain.
With individual competitions taking place on the first day of the championships, and mixed relays on the second, Gabrielle (Copthorne Prep) started the weekend with an outstanding race, holding her nerve in the shooting discipline to cross the line first, and become U13 World Champion; the only British athlete to win an individual World Title over the tournament.
Luis and Sebastian, who were up against strong opposition from 27 challengers, finished 15th and 17th respectively, in the individual competition. The two boys joined up with another U13 boy to win team silver for Great Britain.
U11 Connie (Ardingly College) finished in a respectable 12th place individually, and was part of the team that collected the silver medal for U11 girls.
Following on from the World Title, Gabrielle also took part in the mixed relay event, pairing up with one of the U13 boys. They were very tenacious, and at one stage of the race moved into gold, but in the end just missed out on first place.
Whitgift’s Head of Modern Pentathlon, Miss Laura Gomersall, who accompanied as team coach, commented, “Our academy programme is going from strength to strength; to see our young athletes represent Great Britain in an international competition is extremely rewarding. The team should be very proud of their achievements in Cape Town and I hope it has inspired them, and others, for future events in the sport.”