Rio looks forward to a thoroughly modern pentathlon
The Rio 2016 modern pentathlon test event on 10-14 March saw the return of an Olympic champion who is hoping to get back in among the medals this year. Czech pentathlete David Svoboda, the London 2012 gold medallist and former world no.1, has had a hard time in recent years. Injuries left him unable to compete for over six months, causing him to slide down the international rankings to 19th. But at Deodoro Olympic Park he made his return to top-level competition for the first time since August 2015.
Twenty-year-old Korean Jun Woongtae topped the podium, but for Svoboda, who finished in 16th, it was not about the results. “This is all about training, testing, looking around and getting information,” said the 30-year-old, adding that he “missed virtually two seasons” because of a stress fracture in his left leg and muscle problems in his back that were difficult to diagnose and caused him psychological stress too.
Svoboda, who is serving in the Czech Army and studying PE at Prague’s Charles University, said his performance in Rio had been better than he expected. “I’m very happy, but I also know that my shape has to improve for the Olympics. My goal is to be in the top-10 again and the dream is to win a medal. I will do everything I can to be at 100 per cent and hopefully all the work will pay off on the one day of Olympic competition.”
“This is my fourth or fifth time in Rio and I really like Latin America and Brazil especially, it feels close to my soul,” he added.
Svoboda became something of a celebrity in his homeland after winning the Olympic title in 2012, and his good looks also make him something of a pin-up for his sport. “After London some people started to see me as something of a symbol, but I was only famous for a few months,” he said. “It’s not very significant for me and now it’s over. I think that smart people don’t take it very seriously.”
With the world’s best modern pentathletes in town, world no.7 Woongtae emerged from a strong field to win the men’s event. Egypt’s Omar El Geziry took silver, while London 2012 bronze medallist Adam Marosi of Hungary came in third.
Meanwhile, the women’s event took place in a dramatic tropical storm, with Italy’s Claudia Cesarini (ranked 57th in the world), maintaining her focus during the decisive shooting-riding combined finale to take gold, ahead of Germany’s world no.2 Lena Schoneborn and Russia’s world no.4 Donata Rimsaite. Home favourite Yane Marques finished ninth.