Cook gets chance to end her career on a high note

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The Independent Online

Stephanie Cook, winner of Great Britain's 11th and final gold medal at the Sydney Olympics last year and the world's top female modern pentathlete, bids to say farewell to her sport with victory at the World Championships in Street today.

The 29-year-old doctor who, memorably, made up 39 seconds to overhaul American Emily de Riel in the concluding 3,000 metres run in Sydney, retires next month to concentrate on her medical career.

Ironically, the biggest threat to Cook's hopes of finishing at the top come from her fellow countrywomen. The Sydney bronze medallist Kate Allenby and current world No 2, Georgina Harland, are joined at Millfield School by Sian Lewis, fifth in the world, in what promises to be a demonstration of British dominance in the five-event competition.

Held over 11 hours, the pentathlon embraces shooting, fencing, swimming, riding and running, with the 3,000m providing a thrilling climax. That suits Cook, a quality cross-country runner, who was always confident her prowess on the track would pull her through in Sydney.

"I'd made up bigger deficits before and knew I could do it," she said. "This was a day none of us will ever forget."

A total of 199 pentathletes from 44 countries are competing this weekend with the men's individual competition tomorrow. But Britain's men, with Giles Hancock at 55 in the world their top rank performer, are totally eclipsed by the success of the women.

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