TEENAGE modern pentathlete Myles Pillage is looking forward to gaining valuable experience at this month’s UIPM World Championships in Egypt.
The Plymothian is part of a 10-strong British senior team which will compete in the biggest competition of the year.
The 19-year-old will take part in the men’s relay event in Cairo with fellow youngster Bradley Sutton.
It will bring to an end a busy season for Pillage, who has been travelling around the world for the last six months competing at all the major senior and junior competitions.
He started the year by making his senior international debut at the World Cup event in Los Angeles.
The former Plymouth College pupil also competed in the World Cup legs in Cairo, where he won a silver medal in the mixed relay, and Kecskemet in Hungary.
But the UIPM World Championships will be his biggest event yet.
“To go to the senior World Championships for the relay event is a great opportunity to gain more experience,” Pillage told Plymouth Sports Gazette. “I will be competing against far more experienced athletes than myself.
“Not many people my age get opportunities like this. Other nations’ athletes have to wait until they are seniors to compete at this level, so I am really, really fortunate.”
Pillage, who only returned to the UK on Tuesday from the Junior World Championships, added: “It has pretty much been non-stop for me recently.
“That’s the thing with the pentathlon season, it is World Cup after World Cup, if you are on the senior circuit, which I’ve been fortunate to have competed on this year. Then junior competitions start and now I’m lucky enough to be going to the senior World Championships next week.”
Olympic hopeful Pillage admits this year has all been about gaining experience for the future.
He has only just moved up from youth (under-19) to junior level (19-21), so to even be selected to compete at senior international events for Great Britain is an achievement in its own right.
“When I got selected for the senior World Cups at the start of the season I knew nothing miraculous was going to happen, results wise,” said Pillage.
“But pentathlon more than most sports is about experience. There are disciplines like fencing and horse riding where experience is utterly key.”
Pillage might not have had any World Cup expectations, but he ended up winning a silver medal in the mixed relay with Jo Muir at the second series leg in Cairo.
“It was only my second senior competition of my life. It was completely unexpected but we had a great day and that resulted in a silver medal. It was really exciting to do that.
“That was a big day for me. It was my first (senior) medal, but, hopefully, there will be more to come in the future.”
Modern pentathlon combines swimming, fencing, horse riding, shooting and running and Pillage is still getting to grips with all the disciplines having only taken up the sport three years ago.
Swimming was his main sport before then and that remains his strongest discipline.
“Swimming was my background sport,” he said. “I did that before pentathlon. I was part of Plymouth Leander and would be swimming 20 hours a week with them until the age of 16 when I made the conversion to pentathlon.
“I don’t have the same background in the other disciplines. I have an advantage in swimming and now I have to try and convert that into the other disciplines.”
He added: “Running is what I need to improve the most.
“My horse riding is okay, shooting is good and fencing is good, but running is where other countries have really excelled over the last few years and that’s something that I personally have to really improve on.
“But it’s good to identify that and make changes, rather than just carrying on with the same training all the time.”
Pillage, who now trains at the Pentathlon GB national centre in Bath, is from a sporty Plymouth family.
His older sister, Kelcey, was an international pentathlete who is now competing in rowing, while his twin brother, Alex, also did pentathlon but is now concentrating on triathlon.
“As a family we are so competitive and I think that has helped us,” said Pillage.
“My sister did pentathlon before me and it was great to have that person to give me advice, especially when I first got introduced to the sport.
“I was quite late coming into it and it was good to have my sister who had been there already.”
Pillage will be in action at the World Championships on August 22.
He follows in the footsteps of fellow west Devon athletes Heather Fell and Kate Allenby in competing for Great Britain at a senior World Championships.