De Luca corners Doha glory in style

 23 Oct 2017 - 1:28

De Luca corners Doha glory in style
The podium winners, Italian penathlete Riccardo De Luca, Patrick Douge of Germany and France’s Valentin Belaud pose for a photograph with officials of Qatar Equestrian Federation and International Modern Pentathlon Federation (UIPM) during the prize distribution ceremony of UIPM Champion of Champions event at Al Shaqab Arena yesterday.

By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula

Italian penathlete Riccardo De Luca yesterday relied on his top form in the fencing routine to win the Champion of Champions title at Al Shaqab Arena.
The 31-year-old former World Champion topped the fencing competition to tilt the scale in his favour as the two-day event concluded yesterday.
The Rome-born athlete produced an overall tally of 1403 points to win the gold medal ahead of Germany’s Patrick Douge (silver, 1394) and Valentin Belaud (bronze, 1369).
De Luca, who finished fifth at the individual competition at the Rio Olympic Games last year, yesterday managed to score 257 in fencing followed by 287 in swimming and 294 in riding before winding up with 565 in the laser-run drill held under lights at Al Shaqab Arena.
Dogue produced 231 points in fencing and 287 in swimming. The German athlete scored 300 points in swimming - the day’s second best tally - before closing his outing with a score of 576 in the laser-run competition.
Third-placed Belaud scored 193 in fencing, 289 in swimming, 297 in riding and an impressive 590 in the laser-run show to secure the third spot.
“I did really well in fencing and when I saw I had won the competition, that got me going. Then my mind was saying that I am confident and I can get the podium,” De Luca said.
“Then we had riding and athletes had to really ride well to be able to win. If you are too relaxed then you could have bad results. I trusted myself. Then everything came together really well,” he said.
“This is the first time that I have won the Champion of Champions leg and second time I have managed a podium finish in Doha,” he said.
“From here I will get down to training heavily. I may have a camp in Hungary and then prepare for the World Championships. Now I have to put my head down and look at improving in all classes,” De Luca said.
When asked about his long-term goals, the Italian said: “Well, I have featured at two Olympic Games editions. But I missed a podium last year by one point. I mean I missed a medal after seven hours of hard work. That was really sad. I think I will try to better my performance and look at the Tokyo 2020 Games. For me, winning an Olympic medal is the target.”
Dogue said: “Riccardo was very strong today. My strongest show was riding. I was kind of nervous but managed a few good rounds. I tried to catch the leaders but I am happy.”
When asked about his participation at the 2018 World Championships to be held in Mexico City, Dogue said: “Mexico City will be so hard. I will do a couple of high-altitude training camps. But I think it will be a good competition. I am looking forward to it.”
Third-placed Belaud said yesterday: “It is a good day for France. Clouvel finished (the women’s competition on Saturday) in third spot and so did I. My swimming was okay but fencing was bad. I needed a good ride but I was lucky I did not have any faults. It was a good horse. I am happy.”
The Frenchman added: “After finishing third I am very happy. Hopefully I will be back next year. I want to win the Champion of Champions title in Doha. The organisers do a great job and so we are happy.”
Belaud said: “We have 11 months to go for the World Championships in Mexico City. We have to do a lot of hard training. We have to take step-by-step when we aim for the World Championships in 2018. Let’s see what happens but yes, I want to win the world title.”