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Esposito crossed the combined shooting/running finishing line first after starting 38 seconds behind leader Oktawia Nowacka of Poland, setting an Olympic record of 1,372 points. Elodie Clouvel of France was the second-best swimmer of the day, securing the silver medal. Nowacka held off China's Chen Qian by just six seconds in the final event to secure bronze.
“I know combined is my strongest event,” Esposito said. “I just didn’t want to think about getting a medal, and I just thought ‘I am good at this event, I enjoy it the most, I'm gonna have fun with it’. For each event I have tasks and if I do those, then in my mind, I've won.”
For silver medallist Clouvel, the host city is a special place: “Rio is a city that I will always carry in my heart. This is actually where I got my very first medal and first victory in the world championship in 2012. I have to thank all the people and all the supporters who worked together to make this a unique experience for all of us.”
Nowacka, who put in a strong performance in fencing, was happy with bronze despite having been in the lead: “That was an incredible feeling and after a lot of hard work I’ve reached my dream. I always dreamed about winning a medal.”
Defending champion, Lithuania’s Laura Asadauskaite, was out of contention following an elimination in the show jumping, although she did manage to set an Olympic record in the combined shooting/running with a time of 12 minutes 1.01 seconds.