By Nick Butler

Russia celebrate gold in the World Cup team relay ©UIPMRussia secured victory in the mixed team relay final after taking advantage of an Egyptian error on the final day of the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) World Cup in Sarasota-Bradenton.

The Egyptians had set the early pace in the 15-team competition - which was missing Great Britain, the winners of both male and female individual events - with Omar El Geziry and Haydy Morsy performing strongly in both the fencing and swimming disciplines.

But then disaster struck, as the pair mistakenly tackled an obstacle in the wrong direction in the jumping round, leading to their automatic elimination.

From there the Russian pairing of Alexander Lesun and Anna Burjak were too strong, dominating the concluding run-shoot event to win ahead of Ireland's Arthur Lanigan-O'Keeffe and Natalya Coyle.

Canadian duo Melanie McCann and Joshua Riker Fox rose from fourth place after the jumping competition to claim the final place on the podium. 

The exhibition event formed the end of the opening World Cup fixture of the season, and received praise afterwards from athletes and administrators alike.

A jubilant Lesun said that he hoped that it would one day feature at more major events in the future. 

"I like this event, it is very interesting," he said, adding: "It is not in the Olympics yet, but I hope that it could be for the Tokyo [2020] Olympics as I would like to see it recognised there".

The victorious Russian pair celebrate after being awarded the gold medal ©UIPMThe victorious Russian pair celebrate after being awarded the gold medal ©UIPM

UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann also expressed his delight at the high standard of competition throughout the weekend.

"When you look at the podium in the mixed relay we have Russia, Ireland and Canada and this is I think a great advert for the event," he said.

"Ireland, who finish second, came back to our Union few years ago and I think this is an important message to countries on how important it is to compete in mixed relay.

"We had another big crowd today and there was some really tough running at the finish. 

"The weather was with us, the horses were good and what is important is that we have had a wonderful crowd around us.

"All the people I have spoken to so far, our guests from the International Olympic Committee and others, have said this competition was a big success and a great start to the World Cup Series and the UIPM year."

The World Cup series is due to continue next month with with a leg in Cairo from March 19 to 23, before further events in Rome and Kesckemet, Hungary, ahead of June's Final in Minsk.

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