May 13 - Russia's Aleksander Lesun ended his silver streak at the World Modern Pentathlon Championships by striking gold in Rome ahead of compatriot Andrey Moiseev, the Olympic double gold medallist and defending champion.
Lesun (pictured top), currently the world number-one, charged past the Moiseev in the last 500 metres of the final run/shoot discipline to become the 52nd world champion with a total of 5,964 points, having finished runner-up on the past two occasions.
Moiseev (pictured below) totalled 5,944, while Jin-hwa Jung of South Korea, with 5,928, won his second medal of the championships, this time bronze.
"Thank you to everyone that helped me to get here," said an overjoyed Lesun.
"I am so happy, this is unbelievable."
Lesun had started the day by finishing top in the fencing; a solid time in the swim, followed by a better than expected score in his weakest discipline, riding, meant that the Russian started third in the combined event, where swift shooting enabled him to make his greater endurance tell in the final run.
"When I left the last shoot, I did not think I had it in me to beat Andrey [Moiseev]," Lesun said.
"We battled so hard in the last lap.
"I was so relieved that I had enough in my legs to finally win gold after two consecutive silvers."
Moiseev commented: "I just didn't have enough in the last run.
"[But] I am very happy for Aleksander to win this gold."
Jung, who was in the Korean men's relay team which made history last Tuesday (May 8) as they won the first ever World Championships gold for Korea, commented: "This is unbelievable for me and my country.
"The gold medal in the relay gave me so much confidence and it gave me the belief that I was good enough – now I have a World Championships individual medal to show it."
Apart from the medallists, Stefan Kollner of Germany, Nicola Benedetti of Italy and David Svoboda of the Czech Republic secured Olympic qualification through being the first three athletes across the finishing line who had yet to qualify for the London 2012 Games.
Britain's world junior champion Jamie Cooke, world record holder for the 200m pentathlon swim, won his private aquatic battle with main rival Amro El Geziry of Egypt, but was pushed all the way as he recorded 1min 56.39sec.
Cooke finished 33rd overall with 5,312 points with team mate Nick Woodbridge finishing higher in 10th with 5,852.
Jan Bartu, performance director of the Pentathlon GB programme, which has received National Lottery support since 1997, said: "Nick demonstrated a high international standard again today, but there is still room for improvement.
"If he had fenced throughout the way he started, he probably would have been in the medal zone.
"The pressure got to Jamie a bit in the fencing today, but it will have been a good learning experience for him.
"We need to remember that he is still only 21 – he is a young athlete with great talent and a lot of potential who is trying to grow into a world-class competitor."
There were home celebrations for the Italians who won team gold.
Britain claimed four medals at the Championships: Mhairi Spence (pictured above) struck gold in the women's individual event with Samantha Murray taking bronze.
Murray, Spence and Heather Fell also collected gold in the team event after Katy Burke, Kate French and Katy Livingston earlier won bronze in the team relay.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
May 2012: British pair book London 2012 places with gold and bronze at modern pentathlon World Championships
May 2012: Shock as Ukraine's Victoria Tereshuk misses out on World Championship final place
May 2012: Modern pentathlon to push for mixed relay at 2016 Olympics after Ukraine strike world gold again
May 2012: Historic first gold for South Korea at modern pentathlon World Championships in Rome
May 2012: Classy Schöneborn earns Germany last-gasp modern pentathlon gold