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.


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.


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.


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.

Amherst Swimmer Tells How to Make It to the Collegiate Level

Ever wonder what it’s like to swim at college level? Have you ever thought about trying to fit in with a group, enjoy your experiences, and also improve your sport? Division 3 swimmer, Clare Leonard, has experienced all of these situations and has been successfully swimming and getting an excellent education at Amherst College.

How Clare Got Her Start

Clare Leonard started swimming at the age of 10. She had been swimming at a community pool over the summer. She and some friends discovered a local swim team, Swim City in Long Beach, CA, that competed regularly, and she decided to swim full time. She continued to swim with Swim City and also with her high school, Long Beach Polytechnic. Her goals were to improve her sport and excel in school. With her work ethic, she achieved success in school and in swim.


She is currently in her second year at Amherst, where she swims the Fly. Academically, she is also excelling and has completed a summer internship at Stanford where she studied exoplanets.

Clare loves so many things about the sport; she loves how it feels to drop time, to work hard, and loves the environment of hardworking and determined people. She says she has always had supportive coaches, and even though swimming is an individual sport she always feels a team aspect associated with it.

Clare’s Suggestions for Future Collegiate Swimmers

Clare began emailing coaches all over the country about her swimming while in high school. Clare knew that she not only wanted a good swimming experience but also a great education. She informed and updated them about her times, test scores, etc. After conversing with the coach of the Amherst swim team, she traveled to the college and practiced with the team to get a feel of what it would be like. She instantly knew she would be attending Amherst if accepted. Clare got early admission to Amherst and looked forward to all of her experiences.

As far as training and nutrition, Clare suggests staying focused and giving 100% at every practice. She shared that it is very easy to eat unhealthy, especially in college. Clare suggests you always eat enough and eat food with a lot of nutrients.

Clare’s number one suggestion for swimming is that you wear comfortable and fitted suits. She suggests Jolyn and Nike suits. As far as gear, Clare said that her gear is provided by Amherst. But, growing up she wore Speedo fins and TYR goggles.

Some Additional Suggestions 

If you are interested in starting on a swim team, check out USA Swimming to find a great swim club near you.

If you are a current swimmer, get inspired by watching Touch the Wall, the Missy Franklin/Kara Lynn Joyce documentary.

Great books for inspiration include:

Grayson, the true story of a teen girl, training to swim to Catalina Island, who saved a baby gray whale by swimming with it back out to sea

Young Woman and the Sea, about Trudy Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel

About the Author
untitledIsabella Reina is a 7th grade swimmer who has been in the sport since she was five years old. She has competed at county wide and state meets, and has been to seven Junior Olympics. Clare was her former teammate and one of her mentors.

How an 11-year-old girl found her mojo and earned a Junior Black Belt

At only eleven-years-old, Rheya successfully earned her junior black belt last month from Power of One Karate in Long Beach. It was a long and challenging road. Here is her story.

Yes, I finally made it! That is what went through my mind when we received the email inviting me for the junior black belt test. I was so excited that my instructors thought I was ready for this test!  This also meant a lot of hard work needed to be done in order to be prepared for the test.

Achieving my junior black belt means very much to me because ever since I started karate,

Rheya practiced all the time (here at age 8 in Hawaii

I had set a goal to earn my junior black belt. I really admired the Karate instructors.   They were full of energy and made martial arts fun to learn. At that time it seemed like an easy goal to set. However, it was very difficult at times and I thought I never would make it. Yes, there were times when I wanted to give up because the curriculum was getting harder (I really remember the time I was learning Long Form 4, I kept practicing and practicing until I learned it. It took me awhile but I got it). I had set a goal and I wanted to persevere and not give up. I did not want to disappoint my instructors, my parents, or myself by quitting. I am glad that I did not give up and finally made it junior black belt. Yes, it took great amount of work, practice and perseverance, but I accomplished my goal. I felt proud of myself!

Rheya’s junior black belt ceremony

Earning my junior black belt means I accomplished and followed through with my goal that I had set six years ago. Over the years, I have learned to believe in myself, and to work hard. I have gained multiple important, valuable skills and knowledge from the instructors at Power of One.   I don’t think I would have been able learn these skills without karate. The Instructors all believed in me, so that gave me self- confidence to believe in myself that I can do this!

My future goal is to continue with my martial arts training and work toward my adult black belt test in the near future.   I know this will take hard work, perseverance and dedication, but my training so far has taught me not to give up so I won’t! I look forward to working with my karate teammates and instructors to continue learning and growing in my martial arts!

You can be a black belt, too!

If you are interested in learning karate, I would suggest going to a dojo near you and trying classes for a few months. You can try out the curriculum and see how you like it. Along with self-defense, you will learn life skills.

If you are interested in sparring (practice fighting), some gear you will need to take to your classes would be you sparring gear. Sparring is a great workout and you learn how to block your opponent’s punches or kicks. The gear consists of one pair of hand and feet pads, head gear, and a mouth guard.(chest guard is optional). In addition, you will need to wear a gi, which your karate studio usually provides.

Competitions are important because it is a time where you can show off what you have learned from your instructors and fellow students. Also, you can gain and learn so much from other competitors and use that knowledge in your own training. Even if you do not win, you will walk away a winner knowing you learned something new and can get better the next time.

One of my karate favorite movies is Karate Kid. Karate is not really like the movie, but it’s great to see the flying side kicks and stunts, and maybe it will inspire you!

Good luck, and leave a comment if you have other book, gear, or website recommendations for girls who are interested in karate!




Girls’ Sports Should Be Fair!

This past month alone, school teams have been forfeiting instead of playing with girls. Girls in sports should be treated equally to boys. Here’s how we girls can fight for equality.


Sisters Colette and Alyssa Hocking play for the boys’ soccer team at Foothills Academy College Prep in Arizona. Foothills was told that the opposing team, Our Lady of Sorrows, would not take the field unless the girls were benched. They benched the girls, and lost the game.

Two weeks later, another school, Faith Christian School, said the same thing. This time, the team stuck together and said they would not bench the girls. Faith Christian forfeited because of it.

At Summit School in North Carolina, 7th grader Charlotte Albright is the starting kicker. Her coach was told by North Raleigh Christian Academy that it would be a forfeit if she played, so she was benched by her team.

Unfair, right? Read on to learn how to create change!

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Most girls shouldn’t have to worry about not being treated equally in sports or academics due to Title IX.

Title IX was passed in 1972. It states that girls will have equal opportunities in both academics and sports for any school that receives money from the US government. So, if there’s no girls soccer team, girls have the right to play on the boys’ team. If there is a girls’ team, they should have the same funding…equal money for uniforms, training, etc.

Sounds good, right?? But…estimates are that 80 – 90% of schools do not follow Title IX, and no one ever calls them out on it. I did a survey and only 15 out of 36 sixth graders in my class said they have not been discriminated against by gender or race in sports. That means 58% may have been discriminated against! Not okay.

Also, private schools that do not receive money from the government do not have to follow Title IX and can openly discriminate against girls.


Most students I interviewed said the best thing to do was stand up to the discriminator or tell a trusted adult.  Here are some other ideas too.

If you’re a girl and play for a public, charter, or magnet school:

If you see any inequalities, feel free to call them out and mention Title IX (nine). Tell your principal or athletic director. Inequalities may be as simple as being scheduled only for Thursday night games while the boys’ teams get all Friday night games. Or, it can be more direct, such as no opportunity for girls to play at all, poor equipment, or not as much practice time as the boys.

If you’re a girl and play for a private school:

Talk to your principal/headmaster about concerns. Sometimes putting it in writing will help you get all of your thoughts across. If your school treats girls equally but opposing schools do not, talk to your coach and teammates about making a stand, not just for your team, but for girls everywhere. Start a petition, have students sign it, and send it to your league.

If you’re a boy:

Support girls’ sports. Let administration at your school and other schools know that you think girls’ sports are just as important as boys’ sports. Tell your friends to do the same. Your voice is important too.

If none of that works, take the next step:

  • Visit Women in Sports to learn about the rights you should expect as a girl in sports.
  • If there is a Title IX infraction, contact the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). They are a national organization committed to defending equality.
  • Write an email about what’s happening and send it to the press, or here to A-List Girl (editor@alistgirl.com), where we will help you publicize the problem and gain support.
  • “If girls want to get involved in helping roll back religious exemptions to civil rights laws, they should start by learning the laws that govern their communities. If there are laws that they don’t like, because they have the potential to harm women and girls, they should contact their elected officials and advocate for change.” This quote was given to me by Steve Kilar, a communications director at ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). Contact your local/state legislators to let them know your concerns.

Kids who voice concerns are usually taken seriously. You can do something!

About the Reporter


Camille L. is a 6th grade reporter for A-List Girl and plays several sports. She is an advocate for girls and believes that girls should be given the same opportunities as boys. She and her mom worked on this piece together.