Whitaker impresses at Under 19 World Championships in Prague

Bolton-le-Sands' Emma Whitaker with mixed relay partner George Budden at the Under 19 Pentathlon World Championships in Prague.
Bolton-le-Sands' Emma Whitaker with mixed relay partner George Budden at the Under 19 Pentathlon World Championships in Prague.

A young Bolton-le-Sands athlete picked up some valuable top-level experience at the Under 19 Pentathlon World Championships in Prague.

Emma Whitaker, still technically an Under 17 competitor, missed out on a place in the girls’ final but did come home ninth in the girls’ relay.

The City of Lancaster Triathlon youngster also came home 14th in the mixed relay on the final day of competition on Monday.

Day one last Tuesday, July 18, saw Whitaker in girls’ relay action with Warwick’s Georgina Mitchell.

The duo held their own throughout the day, starting the day by coming eighth in the opening swimming discipline in the Czech Republic.

A tremendous fencing display followed with the two 16-year-olds finding themselves in the upper echelons of the discipline leaderboard throughout.

The Brits eventually finished the ranking round with 23 victories and just 13 defeats before picking up an extra victory over Russia in the bonus round to finish the discipline in fourth.

It meant Whitaker and Mitchell, who finished 12th and 11th respectively at last month’s Under 17 European Championships in Bulgaria, were in fourth after the opening two disciplines.

With Under 19 competitions following the modern tetrathlon competition format of swim, fence and then laser-run, it meant just the combined run and shoot was remaining.

With gaps tight throughout the field, the order of the top 10 changed throughout the 3200m course, the GB pair eventually crossing the line ninth to cap a fine display against a field primarily made up of older athletes.

Whitaker’s attentions then turned to the girls’ individual qualifying on Thursday.

A bumper entry list of more than 85 athletes meant it was split into three groups and securing a place in the final 36 was always going to be a tough challenge.

In Group A, COLT’s Whitaker started her day in the fencing hall with nine victories and 19 defeats from her 28 bouts, leaving her in 26th position after the opening discipline.

Whitaker then moved to the pool for her 200m swim with a time of 2:20.58, 10th quickest in the group moving her up to 24th ahead of the closing laser run.

Another good performance in the final discipline saw Whitaker pick up seven more places to finish 17th in the Group A standings, a fine effort despite missing out on the final.

The last day of competition brought the mixed relay with Whitaker teaming up with Hampshire’s George Budden.

The competition began in the pool with an excellent performance putting the duo inside the top 10 after the opening discipline.

A slow start in the fencing salle cost the British youngsters dearly in the final reckoning, but good fight and spirit saw them battle back to record 19 victories and 25 defeats, placing them 15th after the opening two events.

An impressive laser run from Whitaker and Budden saw them close on many of the teams above them, although only gaining a single place to 14th.

However, sharp shooting and strong running ensured the championships ended on a positive note for Pentathlon GB athletes.