By Mike Rowbottom 

Lena Schoneborn_11_March_March 10 - Germany's Olympic modern pentathlon champion Lena Schoneborn (pictured centre) has laid down an early marker for the retention of her title at London 2012 by winning the opening World Cup competition of the year in Charlotte, United States.

Britain's Mhairi Spence (pictured above left and below) took silver behind her, with bronze going to Anastaysia Prokopenko (pictured above right) of Belarus, who broke the world shooting record moving up from 18th place.

"I am very relieved that I got through the first competition of the year," said Schoneborn, who finished 36 points clear of Spence with 5,492 points.

"I had a hard winter training in Colorado Springs which certainly helped.

"Winning the fence set me up great for the rest of the day and I rode that momentum.

"Mhairi pushed me hard in the run, my quick last shoot made all the difference."

Spence, who matched her silver medal performance from the first World Cup of last year said:  "I'm really happy, a little overwhelmed in fact.

"It was a really good day and it was nice to finish well.

"In 2011 I had a breakthrough year, but I knew I could improve, so I went away in the off season and worked on a lot of little things and it has paid off.

"I'm really happy I held it together all day," she added.

"There are a lot of people at home who really believe in me and today was the day to show them that they're right."

Spencer (pictured below left with Schoneborn right), who went to the United States ranked fourth in the world, said the competition for the maximum of two women's places on the British Olympic team for 2012 is driving her and the other GB pentathletes on to further improve their performances.

Mhairi Spence_shooting_Charlotte_March_10_2012
Fellow Brits Samantha Murray and Heather Fell, the 2008 silver medallist, finished sixth and seventh with 5352 and 5348 points respectively.

"We're all really competitive and being competitive makes you better," Spence said.

"We're all pushing each other forward and over the winter we've raised our game.

"Whoever makes the Games is going to put on a very good performance."

Prokopenko, who finished on 5416, broke two world records en route to the bronze.

The mother of one shot her final 5 shots in 9.3 seconds to break the single shoot world record and shot her 15 shots in a staggering 30.4 seconds to be the fastest pentathlon shooter (men or women) ever.

"I can't believe I shot that fast," said the Belarusian, who had recovered from a disappointing 33rd in the swim to win the bronze.

"At the start of the combined event I thought I had no chance, I was very relaxed and just shot and ran and thankfully it worked."

The surprise of the event was the Australian Chloe Esposito who finished fifth in only her fifth World Cup.

"I am in shock," said the Oceanian Champion.

"I have trained extremely hard, but never thought I would finish this high.

"I now want to keep this up until the London Olympics." 

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