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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | MODERN PENTATHLON

Last-Gasp Energy Gives Parygin Gold

July 31, 1996|Times Wire Services

Modern pentathlon got the excitement it wanted, and even a little glamour, but whether it's enough to keep the competition in the Olympics remains to be seen.

After nearly 13 hours of competition in five sports, Alexander Parygin of Kazakhstan won the gold medal by catching Eduard Zenovka of Russia just before the finish line in the 2 1/2-mile run.

Prince Albert of Monaco was there to award the medals.

Modern pentathlon, an Olympic sport since 1912, involves pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, equestrian events and running, and it's on the Olympic endangered species list.

International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch gave the sport's leaders an ultimatum to make it more appealing to fans and television or face Olympic extinction.

To that end, the competition was held on one day, rather than being spread out.

Parygin finished with 5,551 points. Zenovka, the bronze medalist in Barcelona, scored 5,530 points and Janos Martinek of Hungary took the bronze with 5,501.

Michael Gostigian, of Newtown Square, Pa., the only U.S. entry in modern pentathlon, was 16th with 5,306 points.

Parygin appeared ready to concede the gold medal to Zenovka in the final 100 meters, raising his hands and shouting, but he found a final burst of energy and caught Zenovka 10 yards from the finish in the chase event, which is run from a staggered start that is determined by the standings after the other events.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Medalists / Modern Pentathion

Gold: Alexander Parygin, Kazakhstan

Silver: Eduard Zenovka, Russia

Bronze: Janos Martinek, Hungary

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