Olympic champion Laura Asadauskaite won the women’s individual title at the third round of the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) World Cup Series in Rome today.
The Lithuanian registered a total of 1,417 points to finish 34 clear of German runner-up Lena Schoeneborn, the Beijing 2008 gold medallist.
Asadauskaite’s first victory of the season marks a timely return to form after she could only finish 13th in her opening event of the campaign, last month’s UIPM World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
It was a continuation of an excellent season for Schoeneborn, who came home second in Rio having previously won gold at the first round of the UIPM World Cup Series in Cairo.
Two-time Olympian Anastasiya Prokopenko of Belarus rounded out the podium, taking the bronze medal with a score of 1,369 points.
Halfway through the final, it was neither of the former Olympic champions who were setting the pace.
Instead, it was France’s Elodie Clouvel who led the standings, but her medal challenge ended abruptly when she was eliminated in the riding.
The fencing ranking round saw Schoeneborn lead the way with 27 wins from her 35 bouts, ahead of Asadauskaite with 26 and Clouvel with 25.
After the swimming, Clouvel moved to the top of the leaderboard having registered a time of 2 min 08.73sec, the second fastest of the day.
The only woman to swim faster was Russia’s Gulnaz Gubaydullina, who clocked 2:08.30 to repeat the outstanding form she showed in Rio when edging out Clouvel in a thrilling 200 metres race.
Clouvel then came out on top in the fencing bonus round to take maximum points into the last two disciplines.
Unfortunately for the world number seven, a zero score in riding took all of the momentum out of her charge and her experienced rivals took full advantage of her struggles on horseback.
Eight pentathletes enjoyed a flawless round, including Asadauskaite, who started the combined event in pole position with a nine-second advantage over Brazil’s Yane Marques and Schoeneborn.
The world number one, who is the reigning World Cup and European champion, never had any cause to look behind her as she stretched her lead to breeze to victory.
Similarly, Schoeneborn soon left Marques behind and enjoyed a comfortable last lap knowing that she had done enough to keep the challenge of Prokopenko at bay, and knowing the leader was out of sight.
"It was almost a perfect day," said Asadauskaite.
"It started with the fencing where I was very focused, win by win.
"In the riding I went clear and I was very happy about that.
"In the combined event, for the first two laps I worked very hard and then after that I just kept calm.
"I enjoyed being the podium because I won here in Rome last year and I am very happy to be back on the top of the podium.
"The process of Olympic preparation is getting better and better and I will keep it going."
Marques, the great hope for a home Olympic medal at Rio 2016, finished fifth, one place behind South Korea’s Kim Sunwoo.
There was no home success for Italy to cheer, as Elena Micheli finished 17th and Claudia Cesarini, the winner of the UIPM World Cup in Rio, 22nd.
The men's individual final is scheduled to take place tomorrow followed by the mixed relay showdown on Sunday (April 3).
The combined event of each final will be available on live stream at UIPM's new online TV channel here.