Our plans had been to attend the Amateur Sand Castle Contest on Siesta Key late this morning and then watch the Men’s Modern Pentathlon World Cup and Olympic qualification finals this afternoon. However arriving at Siesta Beach and cruising the parking lots with dozens of other seeking a spot, we quickly discovered that between the attendance to see the sand castles and the literally hundreds of people looking to spend a gorgeous Saturday at the beach, there was absolutely no parking there or anywhere else within a mile or more of Siesta Beach.
So, we reluctantly decided to head back to the pentathlon venue in Bradenton. On the way, I was able to add another photo to my collection of unusual and humorous mailbox photos (I’ve hundreds of them from all across the US and Canada).
The modern pentathlon is an Olympic sport that comprises five events: fencing, 200 m freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a final combined event of pistol shooting and a 3200 meter cross-country run. Originally held over five-days the athletes now do all five events in a single day. The female finals had been held yesterday and, thus, we did not see any of them compete.
The 35 female qualifiers came from 32 countries, with two sisters, Islabella and Marguax Isaksen both qualifying for the Olympics in Rio.
36 men from 18 countries were competing today.
As with nearly all international competitions, fans with national flags (this group from Lithuania) are vocal supporters of their national heroes.
The Swimming, held earlier in the day at a separate aquatic facility in Sarasota, is a 200-meter freestyle event. Each an athlete who swims that length in two minutes and thirty seconds earns 250 points … and gains an additional 3 points for each second he beats that time but is assessed a penalty of 3 points for each second slower than that time.
While I’ve watched some very limited Fencing on television, Debbie had never seen the sport. Each athlete faces all of his/her other opponents, one-by-one, using épées, blunt at one end with no sharp blades. This weapon was an outgrowth of nineteenth century rules designed to end duels at “first blood” rather than death.
Victories come when one competitor’s sword touches anywhere on the person of his/her opponent. A competitor’s épée is held in his/her hand in which a wire is located and connected via a tether to an electronic device to precisely record touches and their timing. Once a competitor’s tether is connected
Unlike most equestrian competitions, which can turn on the bond between the rider and his/her horse, the Pentathlon requires athletes to ride a horse with which they are not familiar. Each competition draws their horse at random and then have no more than 20 minutes to become familiar with their mouth before the event begins. We noted that there seemed to be a significant difference in the sizes of some of the horses … as there was between the sizes of the competitors.
A rider and horse must compete a 350-450 meter course consisting of 12 to 15 jumps(12 in today’s event) which range up to four feet high. A perfect ride garners 300points, with deductions for errors such as knocking down a bar on a jump, stopping before a jump, using excessive time to compete the course of falling off a horse.
And, unfortunately …
After completing the first three disciplines, the Modern Pentathlon becomes a “true” race. This event requires the athletes to run four 800 meter laps, for a combined distance of roughly two miles. Upon completing a lap, each competitor must use a laser pistol (now substituted for actual guns)
to hit a silver-dollar sized target
five times (indicated by five green lights) before continuing from a distance of ten meters.
The athletes are assigned a handicap based on their accumulated scores … those with the highest scores being able to start the race ahead of those with lower scores.
Two brothers, Lucas and Lance Schrimsher, both competed. Lucas has made the US Olympic team while his brother is still hoping. I believe the following photo is of Lucas.