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Schoneborn stays strong to win pentathlon

Updated: Friday, 22 Aug 2008 14:02

Schoneborn stays strong to win pentathlon

Lena Schoneborn of Germany won the Olympic women's modern pentathlon in Beijing on Friday, emerging triumphant in the five sports in a day event designed to test an athlete’s all-round ability.

The 22-year-old was never headed in the overall standings after winning the fencing, the second of the five disciplines.

Britain's Heather Fell, who started 19 seconds behind Schoneborn heading into the concluding 3,000 metres run, took the silver while Ukraine’s Victoria Tereshuk moved up from sixth place to claim bronze.

Schoneborn, an economics student in Berlin, followed the now retired Stephanie Cook of Britain (Sydney 2000) and Hungary’s Zsuszanna Voros (Athens 2004) as the only winners of the Olympic women’s modern pentathlon.

Her cumulative score after four rounds of 4,584 points after the first four stages converted into a 19 second lead over Fell for the finale, where the overall leader was the first off in a staggered start.

This means whoever is first across the line would be Olympic champion.

Schoneborn set off determined to make her head-start count and conscious that Fell would have to pull out all the stops to catch-up on a twisty course of three 1,000 metres laps laid out on the Olympic Sports Centre athletics track rather than the traditional cross-country.

Although Fell cut her rival's lead to 11 seconds, Schoneborn was never under serious threat.

France's Amelie Caze, who in June won her second straight World Championship title, started the 3,000m in fourth place but was run out of a medal place.

Schoneborn, runner-up in the 2007 World Championships, had seen her lead cut from 60 to 48 points after the 200 metres swim, the third leg of the event.

Coming into the penultimate show-jumping phase she had to follow an excellent round from Fell, who went into the lead with after knocking over only two of the 12 fences.

But Schoneborn who, like all her rivals, was riding a horse she’d never sat on before, responded brilliantly by having just one fence down.

She had gone top after winning the fencing, the second event.

Conditions for the show-jumping were a world away from those which had confronted riders in the men's event on Thursday where persistent rain created heavy going which, organisers said, was largely responsible for several heavy falls.

But now the ground at the Olympic Sports Centre stadium had dried out, with the crowd basking in sunshine and blue skies.

And while the 36 riders in the men's event couldn't manage a single clear round between them, China's Chen Qian, drawn 13th, thrilled home fans by recording the first clear in two days and 39 rounds of competition.

US veteran Sheila Taormina, whose time of 2:08.86 was a new record for the 200 metres swim in women's modern pentathlon, was languishing among the also-rans after three events.

But the 39-year-old, competing in a record-breaking third different sport in her fourth Olympics, had a moment to savour when she jumped the second of what were three clear rounds.

Taormina won gold as a swimmer in the 4x200 metres relay at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, before featuring in the triathlon in Sydney and again in Athens.

Mondern Pentathlon was created by the French founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, is an attempt to mirror the tasks that a soldier in the army of Napoleon might have had to carry out.

Medal Table

Country Total
USA 45 27 30 102
China 38 28 23 89
Great Britain 29 17 19 65
Russia 25 25 32 82
South Korea 13 8 7 28
Ireland 1 1 3 5
Full Table

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