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'James Bond' v Olympic moral strength

3 min
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Rio de Janeiro (AFP)

AFP previews modern pentathlon at the Olympic Games:

+ It may call itself modern but the sport proudly traces its Olympic roots back to the Stockholm Games in 1912. At Rio it is staged in the Deodoro Olympic complex on the closing weekend. Not for the faint-hearted modern pentathlon is a play of four acts - fencing, swimming, horse riding, and concluding with shooting and running, combined since London 2012. Women competed in the event for the first time at Sydney 2000. It's the inspiration of Baron de Coubertin, father of the modern Olympic movement. The original ethos behind the event was to test "men’s moral qualities, as well as their physical capabilities and skills, consequently producing the ideal complete athlete" - the perfect recipe for an Olympic champion. De Coubertin's concept was inspired by the pentathlon at the Ancient Olympic Games which was based on the training of a cavalry soldier behind enemy lines.

+ Brazil are pinning their hopes on Yane Marques, who has single handedly opened up her compatriots eyes to a sport barely known in a country where football is king. The 32-year-old from Pernabumco state has a great shot at taking gold on home turf. She claimed bronze in London and arrives hopes high of gold in Rio. Marques holds the notable distinction of being the sport's only Olympic medal winner hailing from the southern hemisphere.

+ For its centenary anniversary at London 2012 modern pentathlon underwent a facelift, the shooting and running combining for the first time. It proved a hit with sports fans, the gruelling multi-disciplined event described as "a James Bond sport" by modern pentathlon chief Joel Bouzou. "We hear of the messenger from Napoleon times, some people speak of military education but it's in the past. This is a James Bond sport, it's true," he said.

+ Its status as an Olympic sport came under threat with the International Olympic Committee twice voting for its exclusion in 2002 and 2005, arguing that modern pentathlon was not truly global, was costly to stage, and generated little media interest. But Britain's Princess Anne and Prince Albert of Monaco were among IOC members to vote to keep a sport described as the one that most accurately conveys the ideals of Olympism.

+ Laura Asadauskaite arrives in Rio in good shape to defend her London 2012 title won with a record Olympic points haul. The Lithuanian underlined her well being when beating off a strong line-up to win the coveted Kremlin Cup in June. Britain's Samantha Murray, a silver medallist in London, bronze medal winner Yanes Marques and Germany's Beijing 2008 champion Lena Schoneborn are among her main dangers. The Czech Republic's David Svoboda is one of the names to the fore in the men's competition. Extreme sporting challenges run in the family, his identical twin brother has completed the Hawaii Iron Man. Svoboda has had it tough with injury since London, but he is back on the road to Rio after taking part in an Olympic trial won by South Korea's rapidly-rising star, 20-year-old Jun Woong-Tae in Rio this year. Others in the mix include Egyptian brothers Amro and Omar El Geziry, and British Olympic debutant James Cooke.

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