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  • Modern Pentathlon Chief Says Transport a Big Challenge for London 2012


    The shoot-and-run element of the competition took place at Greenwich Park (ATR)
    (ATR) The head of the International Union of Modern Pentathlon tells Around the Rings that transportation is the key issue for his federation at next year’s Olympic Games, as the test event in London comes to a close.

    The 2012 Olympic event is split between the Olympic Park in East London and Greenwich Park across the river.

    UIPM president Klaus Schormann spent the weekend monitoring modern pentathlon's World Cup final in London, which doubled as a test event for London 2012.

    Fencing and swimming portions of the competition took place at Crystal Palace, as the venues for both in the Olympic Park are not yet finished. The show-jumping and newly combined shoot-and-run events took place at Greenwich Park.

    “It is very important for the transportation to be running well," Schormann told ATR in London on Sunday.

    "The transportation is important to get from the swimming and fencing to here in Greenwich Park. This should be properly organized, for the athletes but also for the spectators as well.”

    London's stretched transport network is one of the IOC's concerns for the London Games and arguably the biggest challenge for Olympic organizers.

    “This is an issue. On the athlete’s side the facilities will be good, the horses will be good, the infrastructure will be good. So the only issue is transportation, and this must be organised and fixed," Schormann added.

    He noted that transportation was the only element that could not be rehearsed at the test event ahead of next summer's Games.

    LOCOG's director of sport Debbie Jevans also conceded that transport could be a challenge in the staging of the competition, but said that “scenario testing” will be taking place this year and next to ensure it was not a problem.

    “Whilst we haven’t tested the transportation, a huge amount of modelling and planning is taking place to make sure the athletes and spectators can travel between the two sites,” she told ATR.

    “We will also be running trial runs ourselves in motor vehicles. There is also plenty of table top testing from now on, and just before the games as well to make sure that we get them all from A to B as smoothly as possible.”

    Jevans also assured ATR that although the fencing and swimming venues in the Olympic Park were not tested this weekend, their capabilities would be fully tested well ahead of the opening ceremony next summer.

    Next year, modern pentathlon celebrates its 100th anniversary as an Olympic sport, after first being introduced in 1912 at the Stockholm Games.

    Few Glitches at Test Event

    Greenwich Park transitioned from an London 2012 equestrian test event last week to a modern pentathlon configuration. The main changes were in the arena where a shooting range was constructed for the run/ shoot element of the competition.

    Schormann told ATR that the rest of the test event ran smoothly without any “major
    UIPM president Klaus Schormann (UIPM)
    conflicts”, though there was a slight delay on the Saturday as a male athlete fell onto a plasma screen causing a power outage at the fencing event.

    “There have been small delays - on the scoreboard today for example, it took a moment before the right result was up but they are just testing. We know this will happen, that is why we call this a test event before the Olympic Games," he said.

    Schormann believes LOCOG working with federation chiefs can make some improvements to enhance the quality of the 2012 event.

    At the test event, he was not happy with the photos taken of the shooting part of the course where the athletes line up in front of targets with laser guns. “We will make it much more simple, much more light so there are not a lot of heavy things on the ground," he said. “We want it to be cleaner especially for the photographers. We will make it lighter so that everything seen [pictured] is much more clear."

    He said federation officials will look at the photos of the test event,"see how it looks, how the photographers make pictures and how the broadcasters film it before we can say ‘yes, that is how we want it.’”

    Schormann appeared to be most pleased with the attendance at the venues in Greenwich Park and Crystal Palace.

    “With the huge crowds we can see that people are very interested in modern pentathlon in this country. I know that during the Games it will have been even further improved," he said in a statement. "As a federation we are very, very happy. This is a fantastic arrangement for the pentathlon.”

    A total of 72 athletes took part in modern pentathlon's World Cup final.

    Not only was the World Cup title at stake, but for the winner of both the men’s and the women’s competitions there was the added bonus of a direct qualification place for the Olympic Games.

    Reigning world champion Lena Schoneborn from Germany took the gold medal in the women’s event but found the cross country part of the race, which circles the Royal Observatory, more difficult than previous venues.

    “The course was very hard because it felt like uphill for 90% of the time. But it is called cross country, and it’s the same for every one of us. I can prepare well now I know what to expect," she said.

    In the men's competition, Hungary's Robert Kasza won gold. "It's an amazing feeling, I have never qualified for the Olympic Games and I'm really enjoying it," Kasza said.

    Team GB's only medal on home turf was in the men’s event, with Nick Woolbridge claiming the bronze for his efforts. He proclaimed the event as visually unique.

    “It's amazing. In front of the Queen's House, centre of London, and this sort of facility - you don't get this anywhere else. It's very special," he said.

    Written by Christian Radnedge in London

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