Nick Woodbridge wins bronze at 2012 Olympic test event

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Sport in Greenwich Park, London

Nick Woodbridge became the first British male to ever win a pentathlon World Cup Final medal by taking bronze in London's Greenwich Park on Saturday.

Woodbridge, 25, finished behind winner Robert Kasza of Hungary and Russia's Aleksander Lesun in a competition which doubled as the 2012 Olympic test event.

Fellow Briton Jamie Cooke, 20, set a new pentathlon swimming world record as he finished ninth.

"It's definitely the best medal of my career," Woodbridge told BBC Sport.

"It was hard not to imagine the venue being 10 times the size it was today, and this being the Olympic medal.

"This will be one of the best venues I've ever competed in, for sure. Crossing the line was good but it's next year that really matters."

Cooke's 200m swim of one minute 54.6 seconds is a new pentathlon long-course record. He also holds the sport's short-course record.

Modern pentathlon is the second Olympic test event to be held at Greenwich Park this week, following the equestrian test which ran from Monday to Wednesday.

Changes to pentathlon's format since the Beijing Games in 2008, where Heather Fell won a silver medal for Britain in the women's event, have seen the separate disciplines of running and shooting merged into a combined event, considered livelier for TV audiences.

Most recently, the sport's traditional air pistols have been replaced with laser guns for the shooting element.

Greenwich Park hosts both the combined event and the show jumping round which precedes it.

For this year's test event, pentathlon's other disciplines - fencing and swimming - take place at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. At next year's Games, they will be held inside the Olympic Park.

Pentathletes score or lose points depending on their performances in each event. Those points are converted into seconds for the run-shoot finale, giving those with the most points a head start. It is then a race to the finish.

"It is special with a big crowd behind you in this venue, in the centre of London," said Shropshire's Woodbridge.

"I hope I qualify for the Olympics in good shape to re-enact this performance."

Of his swimming record, Cheltenham pentathlete Cooke told BBC Sport: "I read [US swimming legend] Michael Phelps' book, and he had loads of tips in there.

"He was saying 'work on your turns and fly leg kick'. That's where I got a couple of seconds and I felt really good in the water today."

The men's final was delayed by around half an hour on Saturday morning after one competitor crashed into scoring apparatus during the fencing stage, inadvertently causing a minor power outage.

Sunday sees Devon's Fell join Scottish duo Mhairi Spence and Freyja Prentice in the women's World Cup Final.

Mhairi Spence
Spence is in action on Sunday

All three are currently ranked inside the world top 10 while 25-year-old Spence, enjoying a remarkable season, is second only to German star Lena Schoneborn in the World Cup standings.

Britain has remained a powerful force since the introduction of women's modern pentathlon to the Olympics 11 years ago.

Steph Cook and Kate Allenby won gold and bronze respectively at Sydney 2000, and Georgina Harland added bronze in Athens four years later before Fell's silver in Beijing.

Britain's men have no recent comparable successes at international level, though Sam Weale won a European silver medal in 2010.

A battle for selection to Team GB for 2012 is anticipated, with three men and some half-a-dozen women competing for two berths per gender on the Olympic team.

Olympic qualification begins this weekend with both World Cup Final winners earning places at the Games for their nations.

Qualifying continues for Britain at the European Championships in Kent at the end of this month, then the World Championships in Russia in September.