Olympic Athlete…in FIVE Sports

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to the Olympics for one sport? How about two? Well, Isabella Isaksen competed in FIVE sports. A-List Girl interviewed Isabella to learn from her experience.

Both Isabella and her sister competed in the same Olympic event, the pentathlon. The pentathlon is a combined Olympic event which includes fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, and a combined event of a 3k run and pistol shooting. Isabella competed in Rio in 2016, while her sister Margaux started eight years before her, competing in 2008, 2012, again in 2016.

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Isabella decided she wanted to be an Olympic pentathlete when she saw her sister compete four years before her. She dreamed of becoming an Olympian from a small age and wanted to live up to that dream. Her motto is, “You can do anything you want to do, as long as you are willing to work hard enough.”

When she started dreaming of competing in the Olympic pentathlon event, some people told her she was too old to begin training. But as she followed her motto, she made it to the Olympics and proved she could do it. Although Isabella did not medal, she is learning from her mistakes and training to medal in Tokyo, 2020.

About the Pentathlon

The athletes start off with fencing, which is a sport where you use a long stick-like sword called a epee to hit your opponents target, which is the stomach area. You only get a minute to hit the other person. Just one hit and you win. If a hit isn’t made in the certain amount of time, no one gets the point. The winner with the least amount of losses then has the most amount of points, with every person getting points based on how many wins/losses they have.

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The athletes then have to swim a 200 meter freestyle (four laps). The person with the fastest time gets the most amount of points, and everyone else gets points based on their times as well.

After the swim, they move on to show jumping and get assigned a horse. It is random draw for a horse, and you have only 20 minutes to get the feel of a horse you’ve never ridden! You ride a timed jumper course as quickly and cleanly as you can. If you are under the time limit and have the least amount of penalties (for rails knocked off jumps), you get the most points, and again, points awarded to others based on finishes.

Then finally, you start the combined run/shoot. The person with the most amount of points goes first, while the person who has the second most points goes second, and so on. To start, you run 800 meters and then laser shoot at a target 10 meters away. Then you run another 800 and shoot, etc.

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The winner of the pentathlon is the person who finishes the run/shoot first! All of this happens over only two days.

How You Can Do It, Too!

Becoming an Olympic athlete in one sport seems challenging. Becoming an Olympic athlete in so many sports seems nearly impossible! But you can do it, too, if you have talent and drive. Here are Isabella’s suggestions.

For Isabella, the hardest event was swimming because she started at a older age than most others. She says you must practice running and swimming most, and when you get older, practice fencing and shooting. Her advice is to stick with your sport no matter what. She says it can be a challenge when the majority of people don’t know about the pentathlon. But, Isabella encouraged that “If you stick with it I promise the reward of knowing you’ve physically and mentally conquered a sport is worth it.”

Training can also be a challenge when there are so many different sports to master! Isabella told us, “Coordinating training can be half the battle as five sports can have you driving across town.” Not only must you be dedicated, but a dedicated parent, who will help you get the proper training, is also important.

If you are interested, in order to get in to the Olympics, you must race all the people in the world (the top 36 men and women from each nation) and then your nation picks the top two women and men. Most of the competitions are held in Colorado at The Olympic Training Center, so Isabella said that it’s much easier if you also live in Colorado! You can find out more about the Olympic pentathlon team here.

Final words of advice from Isabella: ” I think the most important thing anyone can tell themselves is simply that they can.”

About the Author 

Camille L. is a 6th grade student/athlete who hopes to become an Olympian in the pentathlon. She has run in the National Junior Olympics for both track and cross country. She has also competed in Junior Olympics in swimming, and has been riding horses since she was two. She plans to take up fencing in 2017.

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