Sheila Taormina Makes Olympic History
USA Pentathlon Accepts Olympic Invitations from UIPM and Officially Nominates Sheila Taormina, Margaux Isaksen and Eli Bremer to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team
COLORADOSPRINGS, Colo.– USA Pentathlon has accepted the 2008 Olympic invitations from the Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), the International Governing Body for the sport of modern pentathlon, for Sheila Taormina (Livonia, Mich.), Margaux Isaksen (Fayetteville, Ark./Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Eli Bremer (Monument, Colo./Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force) and have officially nominated these three athletes to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.
For Taormina, this cements her place in Olympic history as the only woman ever to qualify for the Olympic Games in three different sports. This will be her fourth U.S. Olympic Team as she has already competed in the Olympic Games in the sports of swimming (1996) and triathlon (2000 and 2004). She won a gold medal in swimming at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., swimming the third leg of the 800m freestyle relay. She finished sixth and 23rd, respectively, in the triathlon at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia and the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Taormina proved to be a quick study in the sport of modern pentathlon which she was first introduced to in June 2005. Her top modern pentathlon World Cup performance to date came in March 2007 when she won the silver medal at World Cup #2 in Cairo, Egypt.
A youngster at just 16 years-of-age, Isaksen also proved to be a quick study in the sport, first bursting onto the national scene in June 2007 when she captured all three U.S. National Championship titles (senior, junior and youth). In February 2008, Isaksen made her first World Cup Final at the first World Cup stop of the season in Cairo, Egypt finishing 13th. She served notice that she was a serious contender for 2008 when she won the silver medal at the second World Cup stop of the season in Mexico City, Mexico.
This will be the first Olympic Games for Bremer as an athlete. He worked the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece for NBC including doing the color commentary of the modern pentathlon competition for the broadcast. Bremer won the gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and finished an impressive 12th place today at the 2008 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
According to the UIPM, they will issue a re-allocation of Olympic invitations on June 15, which would be necessary for the U.S. to secure a second representative in the men’s field. Dennis Bowsher (Dallas, Texas/Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) and Sam Sacksen (Somerset, Pa./Colorado Springs, Colo.) would be the only U.S. athletes remaining with a legitimate shot at a reallocated spot. Bowsher is ranked 29th on the Olympic qualification Pentathlon World Ranking list and Sacksen sits in 33rd. Sacksen holds the advantage over Bowsher in the World Cup standings as Sacksen is 18th and Bowsher 29th.
According to UIPM rules for Olympic participation, each NOC can be represented by a maximum of two men and two women. As stipulated by the UIPM, each NOC has until June 15, 2008 to confirm Olympic participation. In accordance with the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Selection Procedures for Modern Pentathlon, if more than two individuals per gender receive an official UIPM Letter of Invitation to the 2008 Olympic Games on June 1, the two highest ranked U.S. athletes (per gender) in the UIPM World Cup standings will qualify for nomination to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.
Michelle ”Mickey” Kelly(Chatham, N.Y./Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) also received an Olympic invitation from the UIPM on June 1 based on her performance in the continental qualifier of the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Taormina and Isaksen earned their UIPM Olympic invitation off of the UIPM Pentathlon World Ranking for the Olympic qualifying period. The final pentathlon world ranking list for the Olympic qualification period which is posted on UIPM website www.pentathlon.org, shows that Taormina is ranked 25th, Isaksen 30th and Kelly 31st. For the women, the tiebreaker of the UIPM World Cup standings saw Taormina ranked ninth, Isaksen in 10th and Kelly a distant third in 29th. Taormina and Isaksen received the nomination to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team over Kelly based on the fact that they are the two highest ranked athletes in the tiebreaker system of the UIPM World Cup standing.