By Mike Rowbottom

SamWeale 26Jan2012January 26 - Beijing 2008 Olympians Sam Weale (pictured) and Nick Woodbridge feature along with world junior champion Jamie Cooke in Britain's four-strong men's team for the opening two modern pentathlon World Cups of 2012.

The trio are joined in the team by Steven Mason, who secured a berth for the first two World Cups with fourth place in the British ranking list following three national selection competitions in December and January.

The opening World Cup of the year takes place at Charlotte in the United States from March 8 until 11, followed by a second at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil from March 15-18.

Woodbridge (pictured below), who won bronze at last year's World Cup Final, topped the rankings, with Cooke second and Weale third.

The battle now begins in earnest for Britain's men to achieve the qualification standard for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

So far 20-year-old Cooke is the only British male athlete to have achieved the standard, but with a maximum of two athletes per gender per nation competing in the modern pentathlon at the Games, he is not guaranteed a place.

The next opportunity for British athletes to attain the qualifying standard comes at the World Championships in Rome in May, when they need to finish in the top three.

Nick Woodbridge_jan262012
Jan Bartu, Pentathlon GB performance director, predicted there will be tough competition for places on the team for 2012.

"It's going to be a tough competition," he said.

"These guys aren't second class pentathletes.

"They can realistically go to the Games and have a chance to compete well there.

"Our priority is to give the top athletes the maximum opportunity to qualify for the World Championships and the Olympic Games.

"Hopefully, the competition within the team will help them push each other beyond their expectations.

"We're looking for consistency of performance this season," he added.

"I would like to see a high standard of performance this season which means they will qualify from the semi-finals with less damage, and then, hopefully, be in the top 15 in the finals. "

The quartet all train at the Pentathlon GB High Performance Centre at the University of Bath.

The women's team for the opening World Cups will be announced shortly.

Teams for the remaining World Cups in Hungary and Russia in April will be announced at a later date.

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