Britain’s pentathletes had a long wait for the start of their Olympic competition – theirs was one of the final events in Athens, and the pressure did not lift until the athletes had completed their final, decisive run late on Friday evening. But there was hard-earned success for Georgina Harland, who put in her all to take bronze, while Allenby’s exertions were undermined by a less than enthusiastic partner in the equestrian event.

Georgina Harland, who was the travelling reserve for the Sydney Olympics, proved herself a true star as she fought back from a disappointing start. The opening event, the shooting, saw Harland start in a miserable 30th place, just two from last.

But the 26-year-old regained the determination that got her to Athens in the first place (she suffered a stress fracture in her right leg only weeks before) to solidify her performance and leap into the medals with the best run of the day.

“You just have to move on from event to event and leave things behind you,” said Harland. “That’s what I did. I knew that my first two disciplines were my weak ones”

Harland had been feeling the pressure for some time, with the knowledge that Britain’s Stephanie Cook took home the Gold medal from Sydney adding to the torment of the Olympic burden. “There was pressure on me to win back the medal,” said the Canterbury-born athlete.

“I knew I had to give everything in running. Now I am the bronze medallist.”

Meanwhile, compatriot Kate Allenby, who had recreated her recent brilliant form to lie in second place after the swimming, with a personal best in the pool, fared less well later in the competition. She would have taken back her words to HHO two months ago, when she explained that “especially at the bigger competitions, the horses are standardised” for the equestrian part of the event.

The 30-year-old Londoner vowed earlier this year that this would be her last Olympic Games as she intends to pursue other goals in life, and she had been hoping that her retirement from the Olympic platform might involve some glory following a brilliant showing at the World Championships in Moscow in May.

But there was no such luck for Allenby in Athens it seems, when she was presented with a serial fence-destroyer as her allotted ride, and with destiny out of her hands, there was little she could do to avoid plummeting down the leader board to finish in eventual 9th.