Champ warms up for Olympics

PUBLISHED: 14:32 03 September 2010

John Allen Pentathlon winner

John Allen Pentathlon winner


An aspiring young Olympian has become a British riding champion just one year after taking up the sport for the first time.

John Allen, 15, of Calderwood, Gravesend, finished first in the GB National Pentathlon Championships in Solihull on Monday and was handed a medal for being the finest rider and fencer in the competition.

But the national champion only took up horse riding just over a year ago and competed within six months of taking up the sport despite being told it would take him two years to certify.

The Gravesend Grammar School student also managed to juggle his gruelling 40-hour a week training schedule with his GCSEs studies, taking eight a year early and passing them this year all at A and A* grades. The modern pentathlon champ, who came first in heats in swimming, shooting, running, fencing and horseriding, said: “I did this competition last year and I had only been riding six months. I took lessons every day and got my certification before the entry for this year came up, which was great.”

Mr Allen trains at home, putting in about 10 hours of swimming, five hours of running and four hours of fencing at a special centre in Reigate and two hours horse-back riding in Vigo every week.

But he said he still has time to socialise like any other teenager, adding: “You get to know other people doing the pentathlon as you’re waiting around for ages. You don’t just train for ages all of the time, I go to parties too.”

Last March, the Reporter told how Mr Allen had joined the GB World Class Talent Programme to follow his Olympic dream.

He added: “I am really focused on competing in the Brazil Olympics in 2016. My favourite events are fencing and shooting, but I wouldn’t be able to say which one is best.”

His mum, Kerry, said: “I was almost in tears when he crossed the finish line. It is a combination of all his hard work.

“He has definitely got 2016 in his sights and he works so hard. He is a corker, really smashing. I am so proud of him.”

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Gravesend Reporter. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Gravesend Reporter