Uliana Batashova of Russia opened the season in the perfect style by winning her first UIPM Pentathlon World Cup gold medal.
A dramatic Laser Run saw Batashova (RUS) advance gradually from 4th to 1st place as the early leaders became stuck on the shooting range.
Sarolta Kovacs of Hungary had started the Laser Run in pole position but was immediately overtaken by Elodie Clouvel of France, who then froze on the third shoot and saw her hopes of a second consecutive gold medal in Cairo disappear.
In the end, Batashova (RUS) and silver medallist Natalya Coyle of Ireland kept their composure and grasped the opportunity to create a perfect springboard for the season with gold and silver respectively.
Behind them, Kovacs (HUN) narrowly clung on to bronze ahead of Clouvel (FRA), who finished one place ahead of 2018 world champion Anastasiya Prokopenko of Belarus, with Francesca Summers of Great Britain finishing 6th.
It was a timely success for Batashova (RUS), who soared up the rankings in 2018 with bronze at World Cup Sofia, 5th place in the World Cup Final and 5th in the UIPM Pentathlon World Championships.
Batashova (RUS) said: “I feel amazing after winning today. It was a good, it went absolutely great with no mistakes, and it was really super for me.
“I am absolutely confident for the next races now, really confident.”
Silver was no less sweet for 28-year-old Coyle (IRL), who also had a breakthrough season as an individual athlete in 2018 with silver at World Cup Sofia and 4th place in the World Cup Final.
Coyle (IRL) said: “It feels fantastic – I’m absolutely delighted to come away with silver. It’s my second major individual medal so what a way to start the season.
“I thought it was a good day. I was a second slower in the pool, but my fencing was good and I rode a clear round. I think everybody had a bit of a nightmare on the shooting range so I was absolutely delighted to come away with second.
“I’m really over the moon with it. It’s great to see that a good winter training has paid off and my major focus is the European Championships, where I’m aiming to get a qualifying position for Tokyo. That’s the big aim for this year.”
There was also another medal for the 2016 world champion, Kovacs (HUN), who said: “I’m so happy with my medal. It was a hard day but it was my first competition in five months and every event went so well.
“Every event was good except my shooting, which was not so good. In the end I am happy but the season is long and I have to work hard for the European and World Championships.
“It gave me a lot of confidence. My next competition will be World Cup Szekesfehervar and that’s my home town so I want to be on the podium again.”
Typically, Gulnaz Gubaydullina (RUS) was quickest in the pool with a time of 2min 09.87sec, ahead of Clouvel (FRA) in 2:11.19 and Kovacs (HUN) in 2:11.25.
The latter two athletes stamped their authority on the competition in the Fencing arena, where Kovacs (HUN) topped the standings with 26V/9D, one more than Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Clouvel (FRA) and two more than Iryna Khokhlova of Argentina.
Clouvel (FRA) and Kovacs (HUN) both added to their scores in a tightly-contested Bonus Round.
The first ride of the new season was a masterclass, as 11 athletes managed a perfect round and none was eliminated. Kovacs(HUN), Coyle (IRL) and Batashova (RUS) all kept themselves in contention for the overall win with an unblemished score of 300, while Clouvel (FRA) and Prokopenko (BLR) dropped just seven penalty points apiece.
Kovacs (HUN) started with a 14sec cushion but did not settle on the range and was overtaken by a confident-looking Clouvel(FRA), no doubt recalling her success here 12 months ago.
At the second shoot, Batashova (RUS) was the big mover as she overtook Coyle (IRL) and moved on to the shoulder of Kovacs (HUN) in 2nd. But when Clouvel (FRA) froze at the third shoot, taking 43sec to hit her five targets, it was Kovacs (HUN) who initially profited.
However, the 2016 world champion was unable to push home the advantage and she was consigned to bronze when Batashova (RUS) and Coyle (IRL) finished strongly, Batashova (RUS) winning by an impressive 11sec in the end.
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “The first Pentathlon World Cup of the 2019 season on the way to Tokyo 2020 has featured great performances from the women after a long period of training in the winter.
“It’s very important for the athletes to get qualifying points for the World Cup Final, which will be a test event for Tokyo and where there is an opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games.
“Also at the end we saw the true drama of our sport, with places changing, which is very exciting for the spectators and also some athletes who have shown that they never give up.
“Congratulations to all the women and their trainers for what they have achieved after a long training session, and it was a good start to the season for our Union here in Cairo.”
Watch and follow
The Platinum Club is hosting Pentathlon World Cup Cairo, which continues tomorrow (Saturday, March 2) with the Men's Individual Final and concludes on Sunday, March 3 with the Mixed Relay.
China International Women’s Match Race
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