HARRY Sykes of Bowbrook House School in Peopleton was crowned Modern Pentathlon U17 champion at the British Championships held at Solihull last weekend.
Modern Pentathlon is an Olympic sport consisting of five disciplines – fencing, swimming, showjumping, running and shooting (the running and shooting are combined to create an exciting finale).
Sykes’ day started early with the fencing phase, where he beat 17 out of 22 opponents to give him the top score in his age group.
Swimming was the next phase where he had to swim 200 metres as fast as he could and he managed to achieve a personal best as a 2 mins, 08 seconds swim secured his first place early on in the day.
The competition then moved to Solihull Riding Club where he had to ride a course of 12 showjumps on a horse he had never ridden previously. He was told before the round that the horse was rather strong but had to still be ridden forward, so he did well to complete the round, incurring just 28 penalties for knocking one pole down.
The final and most exciting phase was to compete in the combined run/shoot where the pressure was on because his lead meant he could set off 12 seconds before the next placed athlete.
This final phase of pentathlon involves shooting at five knock down targets with a maximum time allowed of 30 seconds, then running 800 metres around a track and back to the targets.
The shoot/run combination is repeated three times in total. Apart from the gruelling 800 metres stop/start to cope with, Sykes also had to hold his nerves when the second placed athlete shot the targets quicker than him and looked to be overtaking his lead.
Sykes came back though in the second shoot phase and his strong run kept him ahead. The U17 boys had to also contend with a heavy downpour of rain as they ran around the athletics track, but Sykes finished in great style as he came over the line 15 seconds ahead of his nearest rival.
Sykes, who swims for Pershore Swimming Club and trains at and is sponsored by Rivers Leisure Centre, was last year selected to join Pentathlon GB’s World Class Pathway which involves training and competing at an international level.
The British Championships saw him competing against three athletes who are in the GB team for the Europeans held in Hungary in August.
Unfortunately Sykes missed out on selection due to breaking his arm at the start of May, but winning the British Championships has made up for some of the disappointment earlier in the year.