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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, July 12, 2002

The world comes to Stanford The world comes to Stanford (July 12, 2002)

Pentathlon Championships bring athletes from 40 nations to The Farm next week

by Keith Peters

Some are Olympians and world champions They ride, shoot, fence, run, swim and considered among the best athletes in the world.

Yet, these athletes who excel in Olympic events and who'll competing next week in the 2002 Modern Pentathlon World Championships at Stanford are also among the most obscure in the world.

That's because the Modern Pentathlon ranks lower on the Olympic radar screen than archery, badminton or yachting - despite being an Olympic sport since 1912.

Next week, however, approximately 200 male and female athletes from 40 countries will converge on The Farm to test their skills over six days of competition. Heading that group are the world's top 10-ranked men and women, including women's No. 1 woman Georgina Harland of Great Britain and men's No. 1 Edvinas Krungolcas of Lithuania.

Nine of the top 10 women's finishers (champion Stephanie Cook or Great Britain is not competing) from the 2001 World Championships will be on hand while the men's field features all top 10 finishers from last year.

The United States will be represented by four men and women: Monica Fling of Walnut Creek, Mary Beth Larsen-Iagorashvili of San Antonio, Sharon Sander of Los Angeles, Anita Allen of Star City, Ind., Eli Bremer of Colorado Springs, Chad Senior of North Fort Myers, Fla., Scott Christie of San Antonio and Jeremie Perry of Las Vegas.

While no American men or women finished among the top 20 individuals at the 2001 World Championships, Fling scored 5,430 points in January. That total would have gotten her the silver medal at last year's world finals.

Opening ceremonies will be Monday, with women's qualifying kicking off six days of competition beginning Tuesday. The women's individual final will be Thursday, the men's final Friday, the women's relay Saturday and the men's relay Sunday.

Athletes, in order, will compete in shooting (firing off 20 shots from an air pistol at 10 meters), fencing (separate one-minute jousts against 30 foes), swimming (200 meters freestyle), riding (jumping an unfamiliar horse over 12 barriers) and running (a 3,000-meter cross-country course).

The venues will be Maples Pavilion (fencing, shooting finals), Arrillaga Family Center (shooting prelims), Avery Aquatic Complex (swimming), varsity rugby field (running, equestrian).

Like the decathlon and heptathlon in track and field, athletes in Modern Pentathlon earn points for attaining certain standards in each of the five sports. However, unlike in those track events, pentathletes also have points deducted for not meeting established standards.

These world championships are one of 11 events being held locally by the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee (BASOC), the group bidding to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to this region.

"It's an international event with a multisport agenda," said event director Barbra Higgins, a fencer in the 1984 Summer Olympics. "This is actually an important event for the bid process (the United States Olympic Committee will be visiting the Bay Area this weekend). This is really the only time we've been able to show the versatility of our venues."


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