St Albans schoolgirl impresses at modern pentathlon world championships

Raissa Vickery in her GB kit

Raissa Vickery in her GB kit - Credit: Archant

A schoolgirl from St Albans has finished fifth in the World Championship of a shortened version of modern pentathlon – surviving the threat of alligators and being sent the wrong way.

Raissa Vickery came fifth in the triathlon

Raissa Vickery came fifth in the triathlon - Credit: Archant

Raissa Vickery, who goes to St Albans High School Prep, took part in the biathle and triathle version of the sport.

Biathle is twice round a 400m run and 50m swim circuit, while a triathle sees the swim reduced to 25m but a laser shooting test added.

And the nine-year-old, who was competing in the U11 age group at the event in Sarasota, Florida, just missed out on a medal in the triathle.

It could have been a different story had a marshall not told her before the race to go left instead of right when entering the swimming section.

She said: “You start with the shooting and run to the transition box and change out of your trainers.

“There was two entrances to go into the swim. I asked the marshall before the race which way we should go and he said left. But it was actually right.

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“I was the quickest at the shoot but then I went the wrong way and everyone else went the right way. That meant I got sent to the back so I just swam blind without thinking about it. At one point I was swimming over someone.

“But I finished fifth in the world which is scary.”

She just missed out on a medal in the biathle too.

She came 12th overall, the fourth of five GB athletes. However, the team competition required three-strong squads. GB actually won the team event and would have also placed 2nd with another person.

She also admitted she would have swam quicker had she known what else was lurking in the open-water quarry.

She said: “We had toasted mashmallows afterwards and when I went to wash my hands in the water, a man told me there was alligators in there.

“They get in boats and charge the alligators to the far end before we raced.”

Around 30 countries took part with over 700 competitors across the age groups. South Africa and Egypt were her biggest rivals, taking the majority of the crowns.

Britain took around 120 and hopes that number will grow at next year’s championships in Turkey.

Vickery, also hopes to be there as she has another year at the U11 title.

She finished first in the regional event at Watford recently and goes into this weekend’s national championships in Birmingham ranked number two, although there is nothing to separate the top five.

She trains at a club in Hemel and also goes to the leading centre for modern pentathlon in the country in Dorset.

Closer to home she is also a member of the City of St Albans Swimming Club and Flamstead Pony Club, who actually introduced her to the world of pentathlon.

She is also hoping to join Paul Davis Fencing Academy in the future.

For Vickery though one thing stood out above all else on the trip.

“I enjoyed the cheesecake the most,” she admitted.