|National champions Samantha Achterberg (L) and Olympian Dennis Bowsher
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. –Modern pentathletes converged at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center to compete in the modern pentathlon U.S. National Championships.
2012 Olympian Dennis Bowsher won his fifth national championship, while Colorado native Samantha Achterberg won her first.
“It’s awesome, I can’t believe it,” Achterberg said. “Coming on top, being on top of the podium and getting a gold medal is everyone’s dream.”
“It’s pretty cool,” added Bowsher. “I mean another big thing for me is not just winning the national title for me but I also consider winning it for the Army. It’s great representing the World Class Athlete Program and able to do well at national competitions.”
Bowsher is member of the U.S. Army and exemplifies the foundation of the sport.
Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, invented the modern pentathlon to replicate the experiences of a Calvary soldier.
Typically, modern pentathletes compete in a strenuous five-event-day as they start with epee fencing, followed by a 200m swim, an equestrian show jumping and finish with a combined run and shoot competition.
The national championships had a slightly different format for its competition. The equestrian show jumping was located in a different location, so organizers changed the competition order for the geographical location.
The competition began with fencing and swimming as normal, but those scores were calculated to stagger the start times for the combined event, and the championships ended with the equestrian show jumping.
The change didn’t affect competitors though, as 10 competitors in both the men and women’s finals scored a perfect 1200 points in the jumping competition.
The combined event is one that can catch pentathletes off guard.
“I think it’s such a challenge going from the shooting and the running. It can be really mental. A lot of people think if you’re a good runner you’ll be good in the combined, but you really have to focus and separate the shooting and running” Achterberg added.
“It’s a different sport from standing and shooting then from running as fast as you can for 1000m and shooting five times, and I found that out today,” said Logan Storie who was competing in his first pentathlon competition.
Expectations are now high for Storie’s next competition as he broke the American record in the 200m swim with a time of 1:55.30.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Storie said about breaking the American record. “There aren’t clocks on the side and there are no coaches like normal swimming so you don’t know what your pace is. You just have to go by feel… First 100 I felt real solid and my goal was to build from there. It definitely hurt the last 50 so I knew I was either out of shape or going really fast.”
Youth is also starting to become prevalent in the sport.
Sixteen-year-old Brendan Anderson gained confidence as he competed at both the junior and senior levels, earning gold in the junior competition and silver in senior. Anderson, the junior national champion, tied Bowsher for first for the individual fencing title.
“I’m starting to become more patient and waiting for the attack more,” Anderson said. “I’m just completing them [attacks] better so I’m starting to get higher and higher fencing scores.”
“I think having Brendan Anderson come in second shows a lot of promise for the future of the sport,” Bowsher said. “He’s going to go far.”