A combined total of six World and Olympic champions lined up at the start of the third UIPM World Cup of the season, in Szekesfehervar (HUN) … and none of them won as much as a medal.
Instead, it was Germany’s Christian Zillekens, the 2012-13 World Youth Champion, who triumphed in the men’s division. He had never won a World Cup medal before, but clearly is in the best shape of his life, taking the victory after a best-ever fourth at the previous World Cup in Sofia (BUL).
Said the winner, “I cannot believe it. I started the Laser Run in 4th place and I would have been happy with this place in the end. I shot very well and then in the last 100 meters, my finish was good and I gave everything. I knew I could get it.”
He finished just ahead of France’s Valentin Prades, the 2018 Worlds silver medalist, who fell during the Laser Run, with Egypt’s Ahmed Elgendy fading after leading on the final lap of the Laser Run and settling for third.
Prades’s finish, however, catapulted him to no. 1 in the UIPM World Rankings, at least for now.
The women’s finish wasn’t as much of a surprise, with home favorite Tamara Alekszejev – the 2017 World Cup Final winner – holding on for the victory over fast-closing Ilke Ozyuksel of Turkey.
“I’m very happy; I can’t believe I am the winner,” said Alekszejev afterwards. “Fencing was perfect and Riding was perfect, and in the Laser Run I had 33 seconds, but I knew that Ilke is a very good runner and she came hard.
“My last shooting was not good because I was looking at Ilke and I thought ‘oh my God.’ After the shooting I just stayed strong for 800 meters. Today was very hard, but I am very happy.”
Alekszejev won the shooting and riding sections and was 18th in swimming and had a 33-second lead over the field entering the Laser Run. Ozyuksel started fifth, some 56 seconds behind, but was flying from the start. She closed to within eight seconds on the final lap and ended with the fastest Laser Run in the field, 38 seconds faster than the Hungarian, but it was only food enough for second.
For Alekszejev, 30, it was her first World Cup medal of the year and first win since June of 2017, when she won in Vilnius (LTU). Ozyuksel, still just 22, it was her best performance ever in a World Cup; she won a bronze medal during the 2018 season.
The Mixed Relay was hampered by wind and rain, but China’s Jiahao Han and Yufei Bian were 2-1-5 in fencing, swimming and riding to pile up a 23 second lead going into the Laser Run and they won easily. Summaries:
UIPM World Cup
Szekesfehervar (HUN) ~ 1-5 May 2019
(Full results here)
Men: 1. Christian Zillekens (GER), 1,492; 2. Valentin Prades (FRA), 1,489; 3. Ahmed Elgendy (EGY), 1,483; 4. James Cooke (GBR), 1,467; 5. Joseph Choong (GBR), 1,463.
Women: 1. Tamara Alekszejev (HUN), 1,402; 2. Ilke Ozyuksel (TUR), 1,394; 3. Anna Buriak (RUS), 1,370; 4. Volha Silkina (BLR), 1,360; 5. Annika Schleu (GER), 1,353.
Mixed Relay: 1. Jiahao Han/Yufei Bian (CHN), 1,436; 2. Blanka Guzi/Bence Kardos (HUN), 1,412; 3. Gintare Venckauskaite/Justinas Kinderis (LTU), 1,407; 4. Fabian Liebig/Rebecca Langrehr (GER), 1,404; 5. Olivia Green/Joseph Choong (GBR), 1,399.