Broken hand scuppers the reigning world junior champion
JAMIE COOKE’S chances of retaining his Modern Pentathlon Junior World Championship title in Drzonkow, Poland recently ended three weeks before the event when he broke a bone in his left hand at the British training camp.
But, in some ways, the seeds of doubt were sewn throughout a season he would like to forget.
After a brilliant 2011 when he lifted the junior world title, 2012 has proved a disaster for Cooke, with his failure to make the GB team at the London Olympics the low point.
Cooke’s form deteriorated throughout a hectic schedule of senior World Cup events and Junior championship events – particularly in his weakest discipline, fencing.
“I have been a pin cushion (in the fencing) all year and it has affected my confidence,” said Cooke, from Shipton Oliffe.
“So when it started to go badly again in the Junior Worlds it all crashed around me and I was ready to pack it all in.”
But he expects a complete break from the sport and the memories of training with his GB team-mates at London 2012 will rekindle his enthusiasm for next year.
“Just being behind the scenes at the Olympics, I realise what an elite club it is and that I don’t want to miss out on that,” he said.
“I have been told to get my head sorted so I am vegging out at the moment and doing absolutely nothing, which is weird given how structured my life has been for the last three years.
“I have bought myself a road bike and am doing some cycling for fun. Training starts again on November 5 and the 2013 selection process for the World Cup events begins then. It is going to be a busy season but nothing like this year when I was doing a full senior and junior programme.”
Despite this year’s knockbacks, Cooke had been hopeful of a prominent showing in Poland until an accident on the penultimate day of the training camp in France.
“Training had been going so well and then I fell off a horse and broke a bone in my hand,” he said. “It was in plaster for two weeks.
“But I was the reigning champ so I wanted to at least show my face in Poland, and I did enjoy taking part in the competition.”
After ending the opening fencing discipline in 27th place, Cooke posted the best time in the pool (as usual) and eventually finished in 15th place.
The overall winner was Valentin Belaud of France who began the final discipline in tenth place, 39 seconds behind the leader, but some inspired running and shooting meant that he overtook Denys Pavlyuk of the Ukraine to win the gold.
“I actually scored 736 points in the fencing which was the same as the year I won it, but I was already too far off the pace which is an indication of how the competition has moved on,” said Cooke.
“I was fastest in the pool and I had quite a nice ride, but I was not happy with my swimming time after having spent such limited time in the pool during the build-up and I had not ridden at all for fear of jarring my hand. I also felt a numbness in my fingers which does not help when you are trying to steer a horse.
“And after my horrendous preparation for the championships, I just felt I wasn’t fit enough in the concluding run.”