LONDON -- Margaux Isaksen (Fayetteville, Ark.) took fourth place on Sunday in the women’s modern pentathlon competition at the 2012 Olympic Games. It was the best Olympic result by any American, man or woman, since Emily deRiel won a silver medal in 2000.
But Isaksen, who recovered from a virus earlier this year and is still not at full aerobic capacity, said her result was "pretty bittersweet."
"I wasn't able to train for the first four months of the year and running is my best event," she said. "I was so close to a medal, but I didn’t have enough time. You can also say, what if? But my swimming was a few seconds slower and my running was significantly slower than what I hoped for."
Isaksen got off to a good start when she won 22 of her 35 fencing bouts to share fourth place. Combined with solid efforts in the swim and ride, and Isaksen was sitting in seventh place heading into the final phase, the combined run/shoot, starting just 20 seconds behind the leader. At full health, this is exactly where Isaksen would dream of being, given her outstanding running talent and ability to chase down those in front of her.
After needing eight tries to hit her five shots on the first shooting phase, Isaksen exited the range in sixth place and pursued those in front of her. By the time she entered the stadium at the end of the first 1000-meter lap, Isaksen had moved up to third and was clearly in medal contention. But nine shots in her next shooting phase dropped her to fourth, a position she maintained the rest of the way as she was unable to chase down Brazil’s Yane Marques who crossed the line in bronze medal position just two seconds ahead of Isaksen.
Lithuania’s Laura Asadauskaite won the gold medal with 5408 total points. Great Britain’s Samantha Murray crossed the line 13 seconds later for silver (5356 points) followed by Marques 17 seconds behind (5340) and Isaksen 19 seconds behind the winner (5332).
"I was really hoping I could bring back a medal for the U.S.," Isaksen said. "It would have done so much for the sport in our country. I gave it my all. I have to settle for fourth this time and hopefully I get on in Rio."
Suzanne Stettinius (Parkton, Md.) finished 28th with a total of 4832 points and said competing in front of a crowd of 25,000 in the stadium at Greenwich Park was "pretty incredible."
"Every time you entered the stadium the crowd was just roaring," said Stettinius. "I've never competed before a crowd that large."