Olympic hopefuls in Sarasota qualifying for Rio

World Cup Final of Modern Pentathlon being held in Sarasota

SARASOTA, FL (WFLA) – This weekend some of the world’s best athletes are in Sarasota trying to qualify for the Rio Olympics. They’re taking part in the World Cup Final of Modern Pentathlon. Athletes representing 27 nations will be at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota.

These are the best of the best from around the world. They’ve already competed in World Cup events in Cairo, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and Budapest, and now they’re in Sarasota for one final shot at the Olympics. Team USA athlete Logan Storie said, “Leading up to the Rio Games this is pretty much the last stand.”

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Competing in one sport during the Olympic Games is hard enough but imagine having to excel in five different sports. That’s the challenge in the modern pentathlon. It’s not for the faint of heart. It consists of fencing, riding, swimming, running and shooting.

Storie said, “It encompasses the ideal athlete. You have everything, you have skill sports, you have endurance sports.”

Team USA Coach Seth Kelsey said, “Each sport is difficult, and they don’t complement each other, so the things that make you a great swimmer don’t make you a great fencer, and they all work like that, so it’s a really unique individual that could put all of that together.”

Each sport has its own unique challenges. Arguably one of the most difficult is the riding. These athletes have never encountered these horses before. They only get 20 minutes to get to know them before competing. Storie explained, ‘You’re not controlling that horse, you’re finding out what that horse likes to do and adapting yourself to that animal.”

This total collection of sports challenges the athlete’s mind and body. It’s a lot of pressure, but these athletes are used to it. Storie said, “It’s what everyone’s been training for the last four years. So you have to just let go everything, clear your mind, and let your body do what you’ve been training it to do.”

And they’ll be giving it their all in Sarasota this weekend.

Four of the sports will be featured here at Nathan Benderson Park this weekend. Swimming qualifiers will be held at the YMCA on Potter Park Drive. The events are open to the public, and it’s worth the watch because many of these people will be on your TV screens this August from Rio.

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