Genadijus Sokolovas, Ph.D.
High Performance Director, USA Pentathlon
PALM SPRINGS, California, March 5. 2013 Modern Pentathlon World Cup season kicked off in Palm Springs, CA from February 20 to 24. Competition in Palm Springs was the first in the 2013 World Cup series. There are three more World Cups scheduled this year:
World Cup #2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from March 20 to 24
World Cup #3 in Chengdu, China from April 17 to 21
World Cup #4 in Budapest, Hungary from May 8 to 12
After completion of all four World Cups, top-36 men and women pentathletes will be competing at the World Cup Final in Russia from May 31 to June 2.
Pentathletes from 30 countries were in attendance at the World Cup #1 in Palm Springs, including 2012 Olympic Champion David Svoboda (Czech Republic), bronze medalists Adam Marosi (Hungary) and Yane Marques (Brazil). Team USA was led by 4th place finisher at 2012 Olympics Margaux Isaksen, her sister Isabella Isaksen, a gold medalist from 2012 Junior World Championships, and 2012 Olympian Dennis Bowsher. Strong Russian team included 2012 World Champion Alexander Lesun and 2012 World Cup Final winner Ilia Frolov. Athletes from many other pentathlon nations competed in Palm Springs, such as Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, France, Austria, Slovakia, China, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia, Mexico, and others.
A new format for the combined (running and shooting) event was introduced in Palm Springs. Now it consists of four laps of 800 m running and 4 laser pistol shooting series at the beginning of each running lap. This format increases importance of shooting accuracy in the event. Other pentathlon events remain unchanged: 200 meter swimming, one-touch epee fencing, and horseback riding with 15 jumps. See more information about pentathlon events at:
Modern Pentathlon: 100 Years in the Olympic Games, 1912-2012.
First, pentathletes competed in semifinal groups to qualify for the finals. Men competed in three semifinal groups while women in two groups. Olympian Dennis Bowsher had great semifinal competition finishing in 2nd place in his group. He was second in fencing event with 1,032 pentathlon points (more than 70% of victories), swam 2:08.16 in 200 meter race, and finished combined event in 12:12.85. Most of other US men pentathletes are still at Youth and Junior age. It was hard for them to qualify for the final at the senior level international competition.
Dennis Bowsher competes in the combined run-shoot event
On the women side, Margaux and Isabella Isaksen's had great results in their semifinal groups. Margaux finished in 2nd place right behind her rival from 2012 Olympics Yane Marques. Margaux had great fencing competition by winning more than 70% of bouts (1,032 pentathlon points). She swam 200 meters in 2:23.70 and finished 4th in combined event. Isabella Isaksen also had great competition finishing in 3rd place in her semifinal group with outstanding fencing score of 1,000 pentathlon points (70% of victories), 2:29.71 time in swimming, and 13:28.76 in combined event. Both girls easily qualified for the final. It was first time Isabella Isaksen qualified for the final at senior World Cup. "It's not only qualifying three athletes for the finals, it's that these athletes won their semi finals. They have obviously exceeded our expectations," said USA Pentathlon managing director Rob Stull.
Margaux Isaksen's competing in the shooting event.
Another US athlete Grace Kittle was very close qualifying for the final as well. She scored 744 pentathlon points in fencing (10 victories and 15 defeats), won swimming event with 2:10.09, and finished combined event in 15:18.74. Grace swam collegiately for University of Denver and University of Arizona. She began pentathlon training in November of 2012. In just a few months of training, Grace Kittle had significant improvements in all pentathlon events. She also qualified for the 2013 USA Pentathlon National Team.
After a day of rest, pentathletes competed in the final. Dennis Bowsher was the only American competing in the men's final. His fencing results have not been as good as in the semifinal. With only 8 victories in 35 bouts, Dennis finished fencing event in 35th place. After tough fencing event, he was able to put solid performances in other pentathlon events: 200 meter swimming in 2:08.46, horseback riding with only two knockdowns, and combined event (run-shoot) in 11:38.79. Overall Dennis Bowsher finished in 33rd place. Having better fencing as he had in semifinal, Dennis would finish in top-10 at the World Cup. Top 3 finishers in men's final:
1. Alexander Lesun (Russia), 2012 World Champion
2. Adam Marosi (Hungary)
3. Joseph Evans (Great Britain)
Margaux and Isabella Isaksen's represented team USA in the women's final. Margaux started competition with strong fencing event winning 23 bouts of 35 (952 pentathlon points) and finishing in 4th place in this event. Isabella had 16 victories of 35 bouts (784 pentathlon points). After the first event, she was in 21st place. The second event was swimming. Margaux finished her 200 meter race in 2:23.07 and Isabella in 2:27.85. The third event in pentathlon finals is horseback riding. Both girls rode very well having just one knockdown. Before the combined run-shoot event, Margaux Isaksen was in 6th place. She run very fast having the best running time in the final. Unfortunately, mistakes in shooting didn't allow her to win a medal at this competition. Isabella Isaksen finished in 29th place at her first senior World Cup. Both sisters have great potential to win medals at international competitions in the near future. Top 3 finishers in women's final:
1. Victoria Tereshuk (Ukraine)
2. Xiaonan Zhang (China)
3. Yane Marques (Brazil)
Two US athletes Margaux Isaksen and Dennis Bowsher competed in the mix relay event at the last day of the World Cup #1 in Palm Springs. In September of this year, the International Olympic Committee will vote on including the mix relay in the program of the 2016 Olympic Games. That's why mix relay becomes more important at this year competitions. Mix relay includes shorter program in each pentathlon event, such as 2 x 100 meter relay in swimming, 2 x (2 x 800 meter) combined run-shoot relay, horseback riding relay, and fencing relay. Team USA performed well in the mix relay competition finishing in respectable 6th place. Margaux and Dennis won horseback riding event, finished 7th in fencing, 8th in swimming and combined events.
The next competition for US pentathletes is World Cup #2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The city of 2016 Olympic Games will host world's best pentathletes from March 20 to 24. More information on pentathlon events can be found at www.usapentathlon.org