Soldier on road to Modern Pentathlon in London
March 20, 2012
By Tim Hipps
SAN ANTONIO (Army News Service, March 20, 2012) -- U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program Spc. Dennis Bowsher sits in the proverbial driver's seat for Team USA's modern pentathletes on the road to London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Having qualified for the Olympics with a bronze-medal performance at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Bowsher is fine-tuning his five-sports-in-one-day skills on the 2012 UIPM Modern Pentathlon World Cup Series while his American peers try to qualify. UIPM stands for Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne, the sport's world governing body.
Sam Sacksen, Air Force Maj. Eli Bremer and Will Brady are also in the hunt for a U.S. Olympic berth. However, they have yet to qualify for the London games.
"I'm in the driver's seat," explained Bowsher, 28, a Dallas native stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., and living across town at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. "I still have to do well just in case it comes down to a tiebreaker. But in order to get a tiebreaker, the pressure's on the other U.S. team members just to get a by-name spot. I don't have that pressure. I don't have that stress of qualifying for London. I've already done that."
"I get to put the training in and compete at the World Cups and World Championships as best I can," Bowsher said. "I can train and compete well without all that added stress."
Modern Pentathlon is a combination of one-touch fencing with epee swords, 200 meters freestyle swimming, horseback riding, including equestrian show jumping, laser pistol shooting and cross-country running, all in the same day. Introduced at the fifth Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden in 1912, modern pentathlon was contested over five days, one event per day, until 1980. Between 1984 and 1992, the event lasted four days. For the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, it became a one-day event.
Bowsher finished 25th and 19th in his qualification groups and did not advance to the finals of the first two World Cup stops March 9-10 in Charlotte, N.C., and March 16-17 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sacksen was the only American to reach a final, and he finished 29th in Charlotte.
"I know when you do six months of solid training, that's going to go into the competition," Bowsher said. "When I go to a competition, I just go there to compete well. I don't put pressure on myself because I know all the training that I'm doing will get me that place."
Bowsher used a banking analogy to describe his "just do it" regiment of training through events.
"It's just like putting money in the bank," he said. "And when you go to a competition, it's time to make a withdrawal."
World Cup stops three and four are scheduled for April 12-15 in Szazhalombatta, Hungary, and April 19-22 in Rostov, Russia. The World Championships are slated for May 7-13 in Rome, Italy, and the World Cup Final is set for May 26-27 in Chengdu, China.
"I want to have some good competitions going into London," Bowsher said.
Bowsher qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing but wound up being the odd man out. After three Americans qualified for the Olympics, Sacksen and Bremer made the trip to China.
Aug. 12 is the day Bowsher hopes his training will peak in the men's Modern Pentathlon at the XXX Olympic Games in London.
"It's one day, and it's whoever has the good day," Bowsher said. "I would definitely put my name in the record books if I got a medal. I don't think the USA has won an individual medal since the 1960s. That's the end goal, so I want to put everything into that.
"There is a lot of pride. A big thing for me whenever I compete internationally, I'm representing all of the United States, but more importantly, I'm representing everyone who wears this uniform," Bowsher said of competing for the U.S. Army. "Qualifying for the Olympics makes me wonder if I want to go another quad in sports. But if I don't, I for sure want to pursue a career in the military. At first, 20 years seems like so long. But life really does fly by. I know there are a lot of risks that go into this job, with what you're required to do, but there are so many rewards that go along with it."