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London 2012

Modern Pentathlon revels in final-day spotlight - London 2012 - Modern Pentathlon

David Svoboda and Laura Asadauskaite left London with Modern Pentathlon gold medals but the biggest winner may well have been the sport itself.

Whispers about the sport's future in the Olympic Games were heard all too loudly at the world governing body, the UIPM, with critics considering it elitist and outdated.

It is in a unique position as the only sport invented specifically for the Olympics, and by the founder of the modern Games no less.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin put together fencing, swimming, riding, running and shooting to mimic the skills needed by a cavalry officer, and Modern Pentathlon made its debut 100 years ago.

The sport has tried to move with the times. Originally, the events took place over four or five days but are now held over a single day while last year air pistols were replaced with laser guns to make it safer and easier for children to take up.

The biggest change came three years ago when the shooting and running elements were put together into a biathlon-style combined event, which made its Olympic debut in London.

It was certainly a hit with the 23,000 people who packed into Greenwich Park on Saturday and Sunday and, as the last sporting action of the whole Games, it picked its time to shine to perfection.

Modern Pentathlon is in the programme for Rio de Janeiro in four years' time, and UIPM secretary general Joel Bouzou is confident that is where it will stay.

He said: "We already have positive support from the IOC. The sport has to and will remain in the Olympic Games. The spectacle we saw is the best message we can send to the critics."

Both competitions contained plenty of drama throughout the 10 and a half hours of action.

Czech Svoboda led the way for much of the day and held off the challenge of China's Cao Zhongrong to win gold, overhauling his rival on the final one kilometre lap.

Hungary's Adam Marosi, who won the world title in London in 2009, picked up the bronze medal but there was disappointment for Russia's Aleksander Lesun and Andrei Moiseev.

Lesun, the world number one and world champion, was the favourite for gold but finished agonisingly outside the medals in fourth while Moiseev was looking to become the only pentathlete to win three successive Olympic titles but could only manage seventh.

In the women's competition, Asadauskaite had a dream day, heading into the combined event at the head of field and using her fast run to clinch gold.

It completed the set of Olympic medals in the Lithuanian's household, with her husband, Andrejus Zadneprovskis, having won silver and bronze in Athens and Beijing.

Great Britain's Samantha Murray was roared home to take silver - Britain's fifth medal since the women's competition was introduced to the programme in 2000 - while it was fitting that Brazil's Yane Marques won the last medal of the Games as the Olympic Flame passed to Rio.

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