Reprinted from The Desert Sun
You’ll be seeing double during the women’s finals of the World Cup of Modern Pentathlon on Saturday.
That’s because American sisters Margaux and Isabella Isaksen easily qualified for the first of five World Cup finals that pave the road to Rio de Janeiro and the 2016 Olympic Games.
Margaux is a two-time Olympian, who just missed out on the medal stand in London, placing fourth in the modern pentathon. Just two seconds separated her from the bronze following a disastrous show jumping portion where her horse refused to jump and also had two knockdowns.
The 21-year-old Arkansas native has progressed through junior and into senior, elite-level competition and has become a perennial contender on the international stage.
She is the reigning Junior World Champion, winning gold in Poland in August in what was her final year of junior-level events.
Her sister is following in her footsteps.
“I’m so proud of what she’s already accomplished, but I can’t say I’m surprised,” said Margaux. “The world better watch out. There’s untapped potential there and I feel like we’re really blessed.”
Margaux tied for first place overall in Group A on Thursday with Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Yane Marques of Brazil. Both finished with 4,100 points with Isaksen taking second in fencing, 16th in the swim and fourth in the combined run-shoot.
The top 12 in each group qualify with the remaining 12 final spots awarded to the combined fastest times.
The show jumping portion is only utilized in the finals.
Isabella, 19, was third overall in Group B, but easily advanced with a third overall in fencing, 15th in swimming and fifth in the run-shoot.
“It’s amazing that both of them are so young and already compete at a very high level,” said USA Pentathlon high performance director Genadijus Sokolovas. “Isabella fenced similar to Dennis (American Dennis Bowsher qualified for today’s men’s finals competition, posting a personal best in fencing on Wednesday). It’s a real breakthrough.”
Isabella says Margaux has made a huge impact on her fledging career, although Margaux’s top sport (running) differs from her sister’s (fencing).
“The most beneficial for me is that she’s right there next to you, knows the lay of the land, that’s huge,” she said. “When she’s training, she’s always helping and supporting me. It’s really amazing to have her as my sister.”
Rob Stull, the managing director of USA Pentathlon, said while the finish was expected from Margaux, Isabella is also one to watch.
“Margaux is a top athlete and really coming into her own,” said Stull. “We know it’s all about Rio and to see someone like Isabella stepping up here in what really amounts to her first major competition at the senior level, is great to see.”Marques rolled though the combined event to easily advance to Saturday’s women’s final as did Melanie McCann of Canada, Hungary’s Leila Gyenesei and China’s Yufei Bian, all ranked among the top 20 on the world.