COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 1, 2008) - Following the conclusion of the men's final today at the 2008 Modern Pentathlon World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), the International Governing Body for the sport of modern pentathlon, issued and distributed a press release in which they announced the National Olympic Committees (NOC) and the athletes that will receive an official UIPM letter of invitation to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. This UIPM press release is attached to this release. Four Americans were listed in the UIPM press release; Eli Bremer (Monument, Colo./Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force) on the men's side and Sheila Taormina (Livonia, Mich.), Margaux Isaksen (Fayetteville, Ark./Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Michelle "Mickey" Kelly (Chatham, N.Y./Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) on the women's side.
Please note, the UIPM announcement today was in the form of a press release only, USA Pentathlon is still awaiting the physical invitations. The following is meant to serve the media in an explanatory nature only as to the UIPM (Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne) Olympic Qualification Criteria and the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Selection Process for Modern Pentathlon. Questions regarding the UIPM Olympic Qualification Criteria should be directed to the UIPM. The official 2008 U.S. Olympic Team - Modern Pentathlon Selection Procedures can be found at http://www.usolympicteam.com/152.htm
According to UIPM rules for Olympic participation, each NOC can be represented by a maximum of two men and two women. As stipulated by the UIPM, each NOC has until June 15, 2008 to confirm Olympic participation. In accordance with the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Selection Procedures for Modern Pentathlon, if more than two individuals per gender receive an official UIPM Letter of Invitation to the 2008 Olympic Games on June 1, the two highest ranked U.S. athletes (per gender) in the UIPM World Cup standings will qualify for nomination to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.
Taormina and Isaksen earned their UIPM Olympic invitation off of the UIPM Pentathlon World Ranking for the Olympic qualifying period. The current pentathlon world ranking list for the Olympic qualification period which is posted on UIPM website www.pentathlon.org, shows that Taormina is ranked 25th, Isaksen 30th and Kelly 31st. Bremer and Kelly both guaranteed their UIPM Olympic invitation letter today by virtue of their performance in the continental Olympic qualifier, the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where Bremer won the gold medal and Kelly won the bronze medal. Bremer is ranked 11th on this list for the men and therefore qualified on the world ranking list as well. For the women, the tiebreaker of the UIPM World Cup standings sees Taormina ranked ninth, Isaksen in 10th and Kelly a distant third in 29th.
Using the UIPM press release of announced Olympic invitees, a preliminary look at those likely to receive nomination to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team would be Bremer, Taormina and Isaksen. Taormina and Isaksen would receive the nomination over Kelly based on the fact that they are the two highest ranked athletes in the tiebreaker system of the UIPM World Cup standing.
For Taormina, this cements her place in Olympic history as the only woman ever to qualify for the Olympic Games in three different sports. This will be her fourth U.S. Olympic Team as she has already competed in the Olympic Games in the sports of swimming (1996) and triathlon (2000 and 2004). She won a gold medal in swimming at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., swimming the third leg of the 800m freestyle relay. She finished sixth and 23rd, respectively, in the triathlon at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia and the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Taormina proved to be a quick study in the sport of modern pentathlon which she was first introduced to in June 2005. Her top modern pentathlon World Cup performance to date came in March 2007 when she won the silver medal at World Cup #2 in Cairo, Egypt.
A youngster at just 16 years-of-age, Isaksen also proved to be a quick study in the sport, first bursting onto the national scene in June 2007 when she captured all three U.S. National Championship titles (senior, junior and youth). In February 2008, Isaksen made her first World Cup Final at the first World Cup stop of the season in Cairo, Egypt finishing 13th. She served notice that she was a serious contender for 2008 when she won the silver medal at the second World Cup stop of the season in Mexico City, Mexico.
This will be the first Olympic Games for Bremer as an athlete. He worked the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece for NBC including doing the color commentary of the modern pentathlon competition for the broadcast. Bremer won the gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and finished an impressive 12th place today at the 2008 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
According to the UIPM, they will issue a re-allocation of Olympic invitations on June 15, which would be necessary for the U.S. to secure a second representative in the men's field. Dennis Bowsher (Dallas, Texas/Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) and Sam Sacksen (Somerset, Pa./Colorado Springs, Colo.) would be the only U.S. athletes remaining with a legitimate shot at a reallocated spot. Bowsher is ranked 29th on the Olympic qualification Pentathlon World Ranking list and Sacksen sits in 33rd. Sacksen holds the advantage over Bowsher in the World Cup standings as Sacksen is 18th and Bowsher 29th.