Youth Olympic Games representative Nikita Mawhirt from Perth is chasing her first senior national title at the 2019 Australian Modern Pentathlon Championships in Brisbane on Sunday.
The Championships will showcase exciting young talent and the additional events that provide a stepping stone to the sport’s full Olympic format. Competitors from New Zealand, Singapore and China will also add to the occasion.
Hosted by Modern Pentathlon Queensland, the Swimming and Fencing events will be held at Sleeman Sports Complex and the Show Jumping and Laser-Run (Shooting and Running) will be held nearby at the spectacular Cherbon Waters Equestrian Centre.
Mawhirt is looking to build on her unforgettable experience at the Youth Olympic Games just six month ago.
“The Youth Olympics was a dream come true,” the 18-year-old said on the eve of the Nationals.
“It had been my goal for over two years to qualify for the Youth Olympics and represent Australia at the Games. I’d represented Australia in a few international competitions previously, but the whole team environment and having the privilege of wearing the Olympic rings and the green and gold at such a big event was a really big honour and humbling experience.”
The Show Jumping component, a favourite discipline for her, was not part of the Youth Olympic format where she placed 22nd, so she has been enjoying being back in the saddle to prepare for Nationals.
“I didn’t ride much at all last year as I didn’t want to risk a fall and injury leading up to the Youth Olympics. Being a keen show jumper all my life, I was really looking forward to, and have thoroughly enjoyed, getting back into riding.
“Riding would definitely be the discipline I am focusing on for the Nationals this year. I really want to take the time to have fun and enjoy the environment and competition. I am looking forward to sharing the experience with our big WA squad, showing some great WA spirit, and helping to mentor our younger squad members wherever I can.”
Since returning from a busy Youth Olympic campaign she has had to refocus on her studies and work commitments. Despite her training preparations being ‘light on’ she had recent success at the Junior National Fencing Championships where she anchored the WA team to the national title in an exciting come from behind win in the final.
Mawhirt will compete against Tully Watt (WA) and Victoria Squire (VIC) for the coveted title. Marina Carrier will not attempt a third consecutive title as she is in Europe preparing for the French Nationals next weekend and Rio Olympic Champion Chloe Esposito is also not competing.
In the men’s open competition, another 18-year-old is stepping up to the senior event. Queensland’s Rhys Lanskey will face tough competition from Singapore’s experienced national champion Kok Kiat Xuan. It is a great opportunity for Lanskey to get international competition in his home state. Rio Olympian Max Esposito is recovering from injury.
World Youth representative Darcy Wade (VIC) will be testing his form in the men’s junior event.
As well as the Modern Pentathlon events for Open, Junior, Youth and Masters competitors, entries have been strong for the Tetrathlon and Triathle. The Tetrathlon is one step down from the Olympic format as it does not involve show jumping. And the Triathle comprises the swimming and Laser-Run (shooting and running).
Entrants from Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and the ACT will be joined by competitors from New Zealand, and a representative from Singapore and China. NSW and WA have the largest representation with nine competitors each. It is the largest ever contingent from WA.
Competition commences with the Swimming events at Sleeman Sports Complex at 7am. The Fencing will commence at 9am and then the Show Jumping (1pm) and Laser-Run (3pm) will be held at Cherbon Waters Equestrian Centre.
Andrew Reid for MPA