Ukraine’s Victoria Tereshuk claimed victory in the women’s event at the Modern Pentathlon World Cup in Palm Springs, but is was China’s silver medalist Xiaonan Zhang who stole the show as she claimed a world record in the fencing discipline.
Zhang, a 20-year-old former boxer, was making her debut on the international circuit and produced a huge surprise in the fencing discipline with a massive 30 victories and only five defeats to set a new world record.
Zhang maintained her lead throughout the day, but in the last seconds of the final run/shoot combine event, she was overtaken just short of the finish line by the 2011 world champion Tereshuk, but still took home the silver medal.
“This is my first time to participate in an international competition and World Cup and this is also the first time I come to the USA,” said Zhang. “I am very happy to win a medal and stand on the podium.
“Breaking the world record in fencing was already a victory for me.
“I cannot believe I won the fencing event and I am very happy.
“But I am maybe not very good at combined event.
“Sometimes I shoot good, sometimes bad, so I cannot decide the outcome.”
Tereshuk admitted she was delighted to overhaul her new Chinese rival in the final stages of the event to take the gold medal after missing out on a podium spot at the London 2012 Olympics, where she finished well down in 23rd position.
“I am so happy because after the disappointment at the Olympic Games I thought my career in sports was over.
“But now I am happy.
“When I came here I never believed that I will win.
“I just recovered from an injury and I did not feel 100 percent prepared so it was a big surprise for me.
“I was afraid of my shooting but in the end all went so well and this is the best way to start this season.”
Third place went to Brazil’s Yane Marques, who added the bronze medal in Palm Springs to the bronze medal she won at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“This competition went well in all disciplines and I am happy to start this season on the podium,” she said. “It was a good day with a nice end.”
The Union International de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) World Cup Series now heads down to Rio de Janeiro for the second event in the series, which is due to take place on March 20.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Inside the Games is a blog of the London Organizing Committee that oversaw the recent Summer Olympics. Its writers continue to report on issues affecting the Olympic movement. This article is reprinted here with permission from the editors.