Modern pentathlon was hailed as a “James Bond” sport on Sunday as the grueling multi-discipline event brought the curtain down on the London Olympics.
Joel Bouzou, the head of the sport’s governing body, the UIPM, insisted that the contests in London proved the event’s popularity, despite two failed attempts by Olympic chiefs to have the sport dropped from the schedule.
“I watched some programs this morning in the news. Journalists were saying this is a James Bond sport,” Bouzou said of modern pentathlon, which combines fencing, swimming, horse riding, shooting and running. “I have never heard that before. We hear of the messenger from Napoleon times, some people speak of military education, but it’s in the past. This is a James Bond sport, it’s true.”
Laura Asadauskaite of Lithuania was crowned women’s champion on Sunday, the last of the 302 gold medals to be awarded at the London Games, with a new Olympic record.
On being the first Lithuanian woman to win a medal in modern pentathlon, she said: “I am enormously happy, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. You can’t imagine how it feels for me to win gold.”
Britain’s Samantha Murray took the silver, with Brazil’s Yane Marques coming in third.
Asadauskaite, the 28-year-old world No. 1, proved too strong for fellow leader Marques in the combined running and shooting climax, taking gold with a record total of 5,408 points.
Murray, who had set off eight seconds adrift in fourth, put in a gritty effort in front of a near 23,000-capacity crowd at Greenwich Park, but had no answer to the winner.
The 22-year-old local girl took silver with a points haul of 5,356.
Brazilian military officer Marques (5,340 points) had set off at the same time as Asadauskaite, but like Murray was unable to cope with the winner’s strength in the three 1,000m-lap finale.
Asadauskaite, married to two-time Olympic medalist Andrejus Zadneprovskis, missed all of 2010 following the birth of her first child, but regained top spot in May.
The world record for the five-pronged event of 5,600 points is held by Germany’s Lena Schoneborn, the defending champion who had to settle for 15th place.
Asadauskaite put herself in line for gold after a solid performance in the riding phase, knocking just one fence down, and crucially in the finale proved quicker at hitting her targets with the laser gun than Marques.
She was in third after the opening fencing leg and fourth after the swimming, in which Hungarian Sarolta Kovacs set a new Olympic record.
Kovacs timed the 200m freestyle test in 2 minutes, 8.11 seconds, to lower the previous benchmark of 2:08.86 posted by Sheila Taormina of the US in Beijing four years ago.
She eventually trailed in 33rd.