Riker-Fox, Vakalis triumph at Canadian modern pentathlon national championships

    Growing number of young competitors bodes well for sport in Canada, coach

    PORT COQUITLAM, BC, Aug. 23 /CNW/ - Alberta's Joshua Riker-Fox and Donna
Marie Vakalis of Ontario were named Canadian champions today after triumphing
in the senior divisions at the 37th edition of the Canadian modern pentathlon
national championships. The win comes just three weeks before Vakalis
represents Canada at the modern pentathlon World Cup finals in Brazil.
    Twenty-five athletes from three countries competed today in the grueling
multi-sport event held at four different locations over a 10-hour period in
Port Coquitlam, BC, including the picturesque setting of Northside Stables.
Modern pentathlon is comprised of five sports: fencing, swimming, equestrian
riding, and a combined run/shoot. Today's competition marked the first time
the combined run/shoot format has been used at a Canadian national
    "You learn something at every competition you go to so I can walk away
with a few tricks I can work on before my next international competition (in
Brazil), especially with fencing and the new combined format," said Vakalis,
who chased down Melanie McCann of London, ON, who led in the first three
events of the day, in the run/shoot competition - the final event - to take
    In a repeat of last year's national gold-medal performance, 2008 Olympian
Riker-Fox of Delacour, AB, defended his top spot, narrowly edging out Poland's
Christopher Pietruczuk in the last 200 metres of the run/shoot competition in
front of a crowd Bob Noble, president of the event organizing team and winner
today of his fourth consecutive title in the masters' division, called the
largest he has seen yet at a national championship.
    "I have mixed emotions right now. I won but I didn't win the way I wanted
to," said Riker-Fox after catching his breath. "I shot poorly and in all three
laps I played the catch up game. It cut it (today) but it's not going to cut
it in the bigger picture. I've had good results recently so my expectations
are high right now."
    National team coach John Hawes was more congratulatory about his
performance, calling the 25-year-old "the future of our men's team."
"Pentathlon is a sport where mental toughness and athletic ability are crucial
and the spectators had a front-row seat to these efforts today," added Angela
Ives, president of the Canadian Modern Pentathlon Association (CAMPA). "We had
a great range of athletes, such as Canadian Olympians, up and comers in the
sport under the age of 10 to one of our masters who is 52. We also had
competitors from the United States, Poland and across Canada here today."

    About the Canadian Modern Pentathlon Association

    The Canadian Modern Pentathlon Association (www.pentathloncanada.ca) is
dedicated to developing high-performance athletes with a focus on competing at
the highest levels of international competitions.

    FINAL RESULTS (Gold medal winners):

    Youth E Girls: Devon Cavaliere, Palm Desert, Calif, USA
    Youth D Girls: Emily Beckett, Maple Ridge, BC
    Youth B Girls: Erin Beckett, Maple Ridge, BC
    Youth B Boys: Kevin Waldie, Grand Prairie, AB
    Youth A Girls: Mathea Stevens, Rockland, ON
    Youth A Boys: Garnett Stevens, Rockland, ON
    Junior Women: Melanie McCann, Parkhill, ON
    Junior Men: Christopher Pietruczuk, Szczecinek, Poland
    Senior Women: Donna Marie Vakalis, Toronto, ON
    Senior Men: Joshua Riker-Fox, Delacour, AB
    Master Men: Bob Noble, Port Coquitlam, BC

    Fact sheet

    What is the Modern Pentathlon?

    Modern pentathlon was introduced as a new sport with the resurgence of
the modern Olympics in the early 1900s. Pierre de Coubertin (the founder of
the modern Olympics) selected pentathlon to mirror the ancient Greek
pentathlon, which consisted of running, javelin, discus, long jump, and
wrestling. The events chosen for modern pentathlon represent the diverse
attributes of a Napoleonic officer, including fitness (running and swimming),
control and concentration (shooting), agility and speed (fencing), and
determination, adaptability and courage (riding and jumping an unfamiliar
horse). Modern pentathlon is the only Olympic event that has had the
International Olympic Committee as its governing body. Modern pentathlon is
five sports combined into four events), competed in the span of one day.
Athletes move from one event to the next with a short break between.
Pentathletes accumulate points in each event; the athlete with the most points
at the end of the day wins.

    Fencing - Modern pentathletes fence using an épée, which is a
sharp-pointed duelling sword with its end blunted. The target area is the
entire body from head to toe. Bouts last for one minute, or until one hit or
touch is scored. Pentathletes fence every pentathlete in the competition, in a
round robin format. Points are awarded according to the ratio of bouts won to
bouts lost.

    Swimming - Pentathletes swim 200, 100, or 50 metres depending on age.
Freestyle or front crawl is the stroke of choice because it is the fastest.
The faster the time the more points the athlete earns.

    Equestrian Riding - Pentathletes do not ride their own horse in
competition. Instead, pentathletes draw a number to determine their horse.
Athletes have a 20-minute warm up and five practice jumps before entering the
riding course. The course consists of 12 jumps including a double and a triple
jump. Athletes are awarded 1,200 pentathlon points at the start of the
competition and lose points for missing jumps and time faults. Spectators are
asked to remain quiet while athletes are riding; however applause and cheering
is appreciated after the course is completed.

    Shoot/Run - Pentathletes finish the competition with a shoot/run
combination. Athletes shoot with .177-calibre air pistol at five "dropping"
targets 10 metres away. They then run one kilometre, shoot another five
targets, followed by another kilometre, five more targets and finally a
kilometre run to the finish. Points are awarded by time. Total points after
the first three events in the competition determines the start order. The
athlete with the most points starts first, with the remaining athletes
starting in a staggered order determined by one second intervals for every
four point difference. The first athlete to finish the shoot/run wins the
overall pentathlon competition.

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: Diane St-Denis, media relations, C.: (604)
340-5703 or Aline Lafreniere, CAMPA communications, C.: (613) 791-4032 and
alineml@sympatico.ca; For further information on pentathlon, contact Angela
Ives, CAMPA president, C.: (514) 898-8754 and president@pentathloncanada.ca

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