Olympics-Modern Pentathlon-Choong tops podium to earn Britain golden sweep
Newsfrom JapanTokyo 2020
By Steve Keating
TOKYO (Reuters) -Joseph Choong won the Olympic men's modern pentathlon on Saturday to give Britain a sweep of the gold medals following Kate French's win in the women's event.
Choong led from the start in the decisive laser run but needed to dig deep during the final metres and produce one of his trademark late kicks to see off a challenge from Egypt's Ahmed Elgendy who came from 50 seconds back to snatch silver for Africa's first modern pentathlon medal.
Jun Woong-tae took the bronze, South Korea's first medal in the event.
After being shut out of the medals at the Rio Games, Britain rebounded spectacularly, becoming the first nation to take top spot on both men's and women's podiums at the same Olympics.
"I think it just goes to show how well the coaches and outstanding athletes feed the culture of performance," said Choong.
After a 200-metre swim, fencing heats and show jumping, Choong entered the laser run with a 12-second lead and needed every bit of it to secure Britain's first medal of any colour in the individual men's event.
In the laser run, athletes complete four laps of an 800 metres circuit with four shooting rounds where they must hit a target five times before returning to the course.
The two golden Britons enjoyed contrasting victories.
While French had to come from fifth on Friday, eating up a 15-second deficit during the laser run to clinch her gold, Choong started with the lead and midway through the final lap was shoulder-to-shoulder with Elgendy.
With the Egyptian fighting for the lead, Choong responded, digging deep into his reserves on a sweltering night at Tokyo Stadium and sprinting away during the final 100m to cross the finish line five seconds clear.
"Anyone who has followed the sport since 2019 knew there was only one person who was going to win that last 800," said Choong. "I traditionally always have a really quick finish."
Modelled on the skills of the ideal soldier, modern pentathlon is the only sport created especially for the modern Olympics when it was introduced by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, in Stockholm in 1912 and it has remained relatively unchanged ever since.
In 1964, when the Games were last staged in Tokyo, modern pentathlon was held over five days but on Saturday the five events (200-metre swim, fencing, show jumping, shooting and running) were crammed into one action-packed afternoon.
Competitors score points in the first three events which are translated into times and decide their starting positions for the final laser run.
The first athlete over the line wins the gold medal.
Amro Elgeziry of the United States was quickest in the pool, touching first ahead of the British duo of James Cooke and Choong.
But Choong quickly moved to the top of the rankings, recording the best mark in the fencing bonus round to go 19 seconds clear of South Korea's Jung Jin-hwa going into the notoriously fickle show jumping competition, in which pentathletes draw their horses' names from a hat.
Choong had only the 14th best mark in the equestrian as Jung trimmed his advantage to 12 seconds going into the laser run.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Tokyo, Editing by Ed Osmond, Toby Davis and Clare Fallon)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Click For Restrictions -