London 2012 champ Laura Asadauskaite books return to Tokyo
Lithuania's Olympic gold medallist won the UIPM World Cup Final as organisers hailed a successful first test event of 2019 ahead of next year's Games.
The gold medallist from London 2012 finished the closing Laser Run 11 seconds clear of Elodie Clouvel to take victory inside AGF Field which adjoins Musashino Forest Sports Plaza.
Rio 2016 silver medallist Clouvel had a three-second lead over fellow Frenchwoman Marie Oteiza after the Riding section with Asadauskaite nine seconds further adrift.
But 35-year-old Asadauskaite showed her trademark strength on the run which, allied to some pinpoint shooting, saw her claim a third World Cup Final triumph.
"Today is a very happy day. See you next year when I come back... l like this city very much. I think I am ready for the Olympic Games. Now I am ready." - Laura Asadauskaite after winning the UIPM Pentathlon World Cup Final in Tokyo
Annika Schleu of Germany just held off another Lithuanian, Gintare Venckauskaite, to take third place.
UIPM seal of approval
It was also a happy day for the UIPM and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee with this the first of 21 test events in 2019 ahead of next year's Games.
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann was delighted at the competition and the setting.
He said, "We have never seen such close attention to the infrastructure and what is needed for the Games.
"We can already say that next year we are going to have the perfect Olympic Games.” - UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann
Yasuo Mori of the Games Operations Bureau said, "It has been a year-long process but the full testing period has finally begun.
"This was the first international modern pentathlon competition staged in Japan since the 1964 Olympics so it was not short of its challenges. But it has got off to a very good start.
“Up until now each functional area had done its own preparation and we needed to see if they could all come together at this event."
"Coordination and integration are things we have not really had a chance to test until now." - Yasuo Mori of the Games Operations Bureau
Runner-up Clouvel just failed to book her spot at next year's Games, but she enjoyed the experience.
She said, "The organisation has been very good and the complex is amazing, and I am confident about coming back to Tokyo for the Olympic Games."
Many of the athletes had to use bags of ice to keep cool with Schleu calling the conditions "difficult".
The German, who was fourth at Rio 2016, added, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity. We were sweating all the way through the Riding and the Laser Run."
The event proved a useful test for competitors and organisers alike with Mori saying 170 staff from the Organising Committee took part on Friday with 70 more acting as observers.
He said, "I’m certain there will be lessons learned and new challenges will come out of this event but we use them to make us even better going forward."
After the men's competition and the mixed team relay this weekend, the next test event is weightlifting's Japan-China-Korea Friendship Tournament at the Tokyo International Forum on the 6th and 7th of July.