Rio 2016 Olympic champion Alexander Lesun of Russia has been awarded the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) Senior Male Athlete of the Year award following his stunning victory in the Brazilian city.
Lesun overcame the heartache of an Olympic meltdown in London four years ago to claim a last-ditch gold on the Deodoro course.
The two-time world champion and one of the world’s most consistent performers had led heading into the concluding run-shoot four years ago only to slump to fourth place after missing five shots.
The 28-year-old, who competed for Belarus until 2009, set an Olympic record in the opening fencing section in Rio with 268 points.
He maintained a 23-point lead after the one-touch fencing bonus round and continued to press home his advantage in the jumping.
Lesun was being chased down by Ukrainian arch-rival Pavlo Tymoschenko in the final event but was so far ahead that he could have afforded to miss 10 shots at the end.
He did not, and was instead able to slow down and wave to the crowd 30 yards from the finish line as he earned a total of 1,472 points.
Also this year, Lesun claimed the silver medal in the individual race at the 2016 World Modern Pentathlon Championships in Moscow in Russia and gold in the mixed team event alongside compatriot Donata Rimšaitė.
World number one Lena Schöneborn of Germany collected the top women’s prize.
Despite finishing in 32nd position at Rio 2016, the Beijing 2008 gold medalist clinched victory in the women’s event at the UIPM World Cup Final in Sarasota in the United States.
The 30-year-old also won the women’s team relay gold along with Annika Schleu on the opening day of the World Championships in Moscow.
Kim Sunwoo of South Korea claimed the women’s junior athlete award after she claimed the title at the UIPM Junior World Championships in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.
The 20-year-old also finished 14th at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The men’s junior honor went to Guatemala’s Charles Fernandez after he prevailed in an epic battle with Jun Woongtae of South Korea to claim the men’s individual spoils at the Junior World Championships.
In a classic duel between two Rio 2016 Olympians, Jun took the lead at the final shoot only for the reigning Pan American champion to hit back and snatch victory in the final 200 meters.
Elsewhere, Russia claimed the best team award while Australian Daniel Esposito won the prize for best coach.
He is the father and coach of Chloe Esposito, who won gold in the women’s individual event at Rio 2016, and Max Esposito who finished seventh in the men’s competition.
All of the male athletes that competed in the 2016 Champion of Champions in Doha received the fair play prize.
A Qatari athlete, Khalid Al-Nuaimi, was invited to take part in the competition for the first time and, despite finishing in last place, was given an ovation as he crossed the line by his fellow athletes.
The awards were held as part of the UIPM Congress in Frankfurt, with the new leadership of the body convened for the first time today under re-elected President Klaus Schormann.
By Max Winters
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.