Laura Heredia, the promise of the modern pentathlon who dreams of Paris 2024
The modern pentathlon It is a sport that came into Laura Heredia’s life when she was barely 5 years old. Her older brother, Aleix Heredia, took the first steps in this discipline, becoming her benchmark to follow. This, added to the fact that modern pentathlon was taught at her school as an extracurricular activity, made her dare to practice it.
As the word pentathlon refers to, it is the practice of five sports: fencing, swimming (200m freestyle), combined event (cross country running and sport shooting) and horse riding. This sport is the only one that has been created especially for the Olympic Games, based on the pentathlon that was practiced in Ancient Greece.
Until the celebration of the Olympic Games in Paris 2024, these will be the 5 sports practiced by the pentathletes, since the idea is replace equestrian for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympicswhere the equestrian race will give way to a race with obstacles.
But that’s not all, this minority sport is in a time of change. Not only because of the aforementioned. With the aim of making a most exciting sport in sight, accessible, popular and sustainable worldwide, the International Union of Modern Pentathlon (UIPM) has proposed that all five sports be held on the same day with a ten minute break between each. The objective is perform all the disciplines in an hour and a half. Laura confesses that she has not yet held any international competition under this new format. But she is aware of the difficulty involved.
Laura Heredia’s first competitions: one step closer to her goal
To be able to function in these five disciplines, pentathletes need to be able to organize themselves and manage all their time well. Laura explains that she trains between two and three sports every day, sometimes even practicing all five. «Having a perfect base of each of the sports is complicated“, bill. He acknowledges that at some point he has considered specializing in one of them. But, he has finally continued to opt for the pentathlon because what he really likes is the union of these five disciplines.
In fact, that plus the good results he obtained in his category as a junior, made the modern pentathlon occupy an essential place in his day to day life. His time in this sport was flowing little by little. He went from getting on the podiums in Catalonia or the South of France to doing it at an international level.
In that sphere, in 2016, he won a gold in the European Cadet. A competition that during the combined test, specifically in sports shooting, became complicated. The laser gun stopped working so he had to change it at the last moment. Despite this, he managed to take first place. «For me that podium marked a before and after, because I showed myself what I was capable of at an international level“, bill.
And, in 2018, he returned to live another decisive moment with only 17 years. That year they celebrated Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, where she won sixth place in the women’s individual competition and a bronze medal in the mixed international team relay. For this Catalan, that has been, so far, her best experience on a sporting and personal level. Above all, because she was able to reunite with her relatives from Peru. She remembers as a special moment, when she went out in line, along with the rest of her classmates, in the fencing discipline. «I saw that they were all in the stands, supporting me… Tears were falling from there. It was the best moment », she remembers.
Podium scholarships: key support for elite athletes
As to what the future of the modern pentathlon is, that is a difficult question to answer. This discipline is a minority sport that has a very small Federation in Spain. «Going to a competition with seven coaches is not the same as going with one or two and that, in addition, we do not have a professional by discipline, “explains Laura.
The pentathlete is firm when she confesses that she does not believe that the situation of this sport will improve and is aware that she cannot make a living from it in Spain. In 2016 he became part of Telefónica’s Podium Scholarship Program. A support program for young promises of Spanish Olympic sport, developed by Telefónica and the Spanish Olympic Committee. For her, this help has meant a before and after in her career, since she has been able to acquire the material she has needed for the five sports and, above all, she has been able to participate in competitions that the Federation could not afford. “These scholarships have helped me reach the level I expected,” she confesses.
Next goal: Paris 2024, led by Aleix Heredia
Between training and studies Laura is doing her second year of veterinary medicine the classification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games arrived, coinciding with her transition from junior to senior. The pentathlete claims that there is a huge change when you go from the lower category to the higher one, but she knows that is at the height of the 36 best in the world. Currently, it occupies the first position in Spain; while, worldwide in 2021 he was ranked 12th in the Olympic ranking.
As for Tokyo, he remembers it as a very intense experience that he did not know how to manage. Although he admits thatI didn’t have to prove anything to anyone, because I was doing it for myself; and for me the best thing was to share it with Aleix«. In the previous season, Laura had to get points for the Tokyo qualifier quickly, betting on the world and world cups. However, during the qualifier she contracted COVID 19 and was left out.
But that did not make it possible for the Catalan not to support her brother who did manage to go to the Tokyo Olympics. For her, her dream was to share those games with him. When she found out that his brother qualified, he saw it as a victory of his own. “It was very special to me,” she says. She is now clear that she will work to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics, where she hopes to go hand in hand with his brother.
Header image: Laura Heredia’s Twitter