Thursday, 18 November 2010

Rookies of the year - Men

2010 was a quite surprising year in the men's field. Some newcomers impressed with solid/consistent performances and showed they were no fluke. In recent years we had Polívka and Medany showing the strength of the youngsters, but this year the newbies had a really great display in the men's field. If anyone deserves the title, it should be Aleksander Lesun, from Russia (born in Belarus in 1990). In his first year at senior level he managed to finish the year as the leader of the world ranking. He won one World Cup (WC4 - Hungary) but gained more points by finishing second at Senior World Senior Championships (Chengdu, China) and fifth at World Cup Final (Moscow, Russia). A podium in his début event, World Cup 3 (Great Britain) didn't even make his ranking points.

Lesun has a strong competition from Serguei Karyakin (born in 1988) though, also from the new Russian generation. If Lesun is ahead in the ranking, Karyakin denied Lesun the Senior World Championship title, by winning the most important title of the year (and again, let's remember it was their first year at the senior tour). If Lesun finished third in his first World Cup, Karyakin finished second in his (WC1 - Mexico) - but then the British competition was stronger and its position in the calendar, in the middle of season, also suggests more pentathletes were peaking, but it's not like the Mexican World Cup was a weak event, not at all. Karyakin also finished in 12th position in WC5 (Germany) and in 14th position at European Championships (Hungary) and finished the season ranked as #6.

Another impressive debut was of Polish Remigiusz Golis (born in 1990), who is placed in the top 15 (ranked #14). He narrowly missed a podium this year, as finished fourth at WC2 (Egypt) - his début in WCs - and WC3 (Great Britain). The Polish pentathlete also collected some important points for his ranking in World Cup Final (Moscow, Russia), where he finished in 15th position. Golis actually competed in smaller international competitions in 2009, but the present year was his début in World Cup level.

Lesun's strongest discipline is fencing, while Golis' best discipline is by far the swimming and Karyakin's best features are at swimming and combined event. Of course they all are good pentathletes overall.

From the new generation making the transition from juniors to seniors, we also have from South Korea Hwonho Jung and Soengjin Kim, who are now ranked as #22 and #46, respectively; and Hungarian Bence Demeter, ranked as #42. From the young Russian squad, Maxim Kuznetsov took part in only 2 World Cups this year, still focused on his junior career; he went to the podium in WC2 (Egypt) and missed the final in WC3 (Great Britain). Surely is another one to watch.

I could mention others rookies that had a good start in senior international level, but let's keep it to the big highlights. The youngsters group is very heterogeneous, some recently come from another sport, others already are training for some years but will peak later, so it's not like we can foresee next years, but Lesun, Karyakin and Golis already showed their tallent and let's hope they can keep it up. The junior and youth year review post is coming soon by the way, this one was focused on their performance at senior level.

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