By Mike Rowbottom

James_Cooke_running_European_Championships_Medway_July_28_2011July 30 - Jamie Cooke became the first British modern pentathlete to achieve the London 2012 Olympic qualification standard when he finished fourth in the European Championships at Medway Park.

The 20-year-old, originally from Cheltenham, recovered from a disappointing fence – where he came 29th – to achieve the top-eight finish that equalled the 2012 qualification standard, beating his own world record for the modern pentathlon 200 metres freestyle short course in the process..

His achievement was all the more remarkable as he had been on crutches up to Wednesday as a precautionary measure because of a bone stress in his right foot.

Cooke, now training at the Pentathlon GB High Performance Centre at the University of Bath, smashed record in the pool to get back into contention, rode well and then held his nerve in the combined run/shoot.

"This is the best day of my life," said Cooke, who went into the competition ranked 22nd in the senior world rankings and two in the junior rankings.

"It's awesome, I'm ecstatic, overwhelmed.

"It's probably the best competition I've ever done, I'm so happy.

"I thought it was going to be a bad day after the fencing, but I swam really fast and that took me back up.

"The horse I had was gorgeous and the combined just clicked."

Russia's Andrei Moiseev just beat team-mate Serguei Karyakin to win gold while Dmytro Kirpulyanskyy, of the Ukraine took bronze.

But Cooke said he does not intend to rest on his laurels with team-mates Sam Weale – who put in an official protest about faulty targets after being knocked out of the first semi-final - and Nick Woodbridge (pictured) still pushing for qualification places.

"It's still going to be really tough. Sam and Nick will be pushing and pushing," he said.

"They will bounce back.

"There's still a long way to go and I've got to put the hard work in."

Jan Bartu, Pentathlon GB Performance Director, said: "We had a fantastic day today.

"Jamie produced an exceptional performance.

"He has worked hard and he's got good coaches and a good support team behind him.

"I'd particularly like to highlight contribution of Philipp Waeffler, the men's coach, who has done a cracking job nurturing Jamie and he has delivered for Britain."

But there was disappointment for the other Briton to make the men's final.

Woodbridge, who won bronze at the World Cup Final in London three weeks ago, ended the day in 26th place after dropping from eighth to 30th place on the ride.

"I didn't do the job today," he said.

"That's how it goes in pentathlon sometimes, you can pick a horse that you don't get on with.

"I'm in great shape and I was so confident this morning. It would have been nice to have done it today and been able to relax a bit and focus a bit on the things I need to work on, but there's still a long way to go."

Cooke is not yet guaranteed a place at 2012.

A maximum of two athletes per gender per country can compete in the modern pentathlon competition at the London 2012 Games and the qualification period runs up to June 2012.

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