The Czech Republic’s Jan Kuf, who overcame a career-threatening injury three months ago when he required major surgery after breaking his right forefinger while fencing, enjoyed the biggest day of his career so far in Berlin as a thrilling final flourish earned him and Natalia Dianova Modern Pentathlon’s World Championships mixed relay world title.
"Today shows how exciting Mixed Relay is as an event and why it must be included in the 2020 Olympic Games,” said Dr Klaus Schormann, President of the world modern pentathlon federation (UIPM) after the 55th running of these Championships.
The Czech pair made up a four-second handicap heading into the Combined Event to overtake longtime leaders Anna Burjak and Maxsim Kustov of Russia,
Bronze went to the American pairing of Margaux Isaksen and Nathan Schrimsher.
"I am really happy as I have never won anything before, so this is just amazing,” said Kuf.
“It is the biggest moment of my career and I hope I can build on this.
“I think Natalie and I worked really hard as a team today and that is why it worked out so well for us."
Dianova added: "For me this is my second world title, but this one is more special as the competition is so much tougher now.
“It has been an amazing competition for both of us, Jan suffered injury recently and I had two years out and I am not long back competing so this is really special."
Of the 20 competing teams, Russia's Anna Burjak and Maxsim Kustov (RUS) got off to the most impressive start in the pool, winning the swimming in a time of 1.54:70.
But home advantage told in the fencing event as Germany’s Christian Zillekens and Janine Kohlmann recorded the best score with 24 wins and 14 defeats.
The Chinese pair of Jianli Guo and Qian Chen were joint second with 23 wins along with Poland, Russia and Korea.
The Russians, however, retained the overall lead going into the equestrian event with Korea's Woojin Hwang and Soo jin Yang second followed by Zillekens and Kohlmann.
And a sixth place in the show jumping kept Burjak and Kustov in the box seat with a four second lead in the Combined Event over Kuf and Dianova, who had moved up to second after winning the equestrian competition.
Zillekens and Kohlmann were just five seconds adrift, with huge home support in the Olympiapark.
But they were eclipsed by the American pair, who had begun 21 seconds behind the leaders despite coming second in the equestrian event, but who claimed bronze ahead of China and Ireland, with an outstanding performance at the final shoot from Schrimser sealing the deal.
"We have to say thank you for our silver medals, but after leading the event for the day we expected to win so we are a bit disappointed,” said Kustov.
“It was very difficult and we felt we did not have enough energy to win, but we worked as hard as we could and we finished with a medal."
Schrimser added: "It was a great day and worked way up the ranks as the competition progressed.
“We had a good ride and a strong run and shoot so we're thrilled.
“It's our first ever World Championships medals and we have trained together for a very long time so they are very special to us.
"The Mixed Relay is such a great event and we'd love to see it in the Olympic programme."
Schormann added: "This Mixed Relay has given us great drama again, especially after the riding into the Combined Event.
“The lead kept changing and changing and it was fantastic to see the Czech's winning overall with Russia and the USA second and third.”