20 August 2016
Australian athletes made history on Day 14 of the Rio Games, Chloe Esposito staging a thrilling comeback to win the country’s first modern pentathlon gold medal , while walker Jared Tallent claimed silver and a record fourth Olympic medal.
Starting 45 seconds back and seventh in the final event of the pentathlon - a combined 3200m run and pistol shoot - few could have seen Esposito forcing her way on to the podium.
But Esposito revealed after the event she’d envisaged taking Olympic gold.
“I just had this gut feeling that I could do this,” Esposito said.
The 24-year-old ran to her limits, but was incredibly able to hold her nerve and her breath at the pistol range as she hit the required 20 targets in just 21 shots. It enabled her to reel in the leaders, astonishingly pulling away for a 16 second victory.
Esposito finished with a Olympic record 1372 points from the fencing, show jumping, swimming, running and pistol shooting.
Her father and coach, Daniel, was a 1984 Olympian in pentathlon and was there to celebrate. So too was younger brother, Max, who will compete in his Olympic debut overnight. Chloe Esposito, 24, was seventh at the 2012 London Olympics.
“I can’t describe it, it’s just the best feeling ever,” Esposito said. “I can’t believe all that hard work has finally paid off.
“Everything just came together, I knew there was going to be a day when it would and I’m so thankful it was today.”
Tallent was unable to hold and defend his 50km Olympic title, overtaken by Slovakian Matej Toth in the final two kilometres.
Tallent gave it everything he had, claiming his fourth Olympic medal – more than any Australian male track and field athlete. Tallent won bronze and silver in Beijing, gold in London and silver in Rio.
Tallent only received his London gold medal a few months ago, promoted after the initial winner was found guilty of doping.
“It would have meant so much to have held on and got the gold here,” Tallent said. “I really wanted it and I thought I had it.”
“I probably got a bit too excited. I was feeling really good, I was patient all throughout the race and just when I needed to be a little more patient I went for it at the 40km mark … I gave it everything.”
In other news, the Australian Boomers were unable to force their way into the basketball gold medal match, going down to Serbia 87-61. The Boomers have had a fantastic tournament and still get the chance to claim Australia’s first male basketball medal at an Olympic Games when they play Spain tomorrow for bronze.