By Tim Hipps, IMCOMAugust 24, 2011
SAN ANTONIO, Aug. 24, 2011 -- U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program Spc. Dennis Bowsher won his fourth national title at the 2011 U.S. National Modern Pentathlon Championships on Aug. 14 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Bowsher established himself as one of the leading men's modern pentathlon candidates to make Team USA for the 2012 London Olympic Games with a solid victory over Will Brady of Howell, Mich., and Air Force Maj. Eli Bremer, a 2008 Olympian. He also topped Sam Sacksen, the other U.S. men's competitor in Beijing.
Bowsher capitalized on the combined running and shooting finale to win the five-sport event with 5,720 modern pentathlon points, followed by Brady (5,636), Bremer (5,584), Nathan Schrimsher (5,556) and Sacksen (5,524).
Bowsher posted the best back-to-back performances of his career with a fourth-place finish at the Conseil International du Sport Militaire's 5th Military World Games at sea level in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 24, coupled with his triumph three weeks later in Colorado Springs, elevation 6,035 feet.
"I was pleased with how I swam and how I ran because we were at sea level for those couple weeks at the World Military Games and I was able to come back and get back into altitude shape right before the competition," said Bowsher, 28, a native of Dallas who is stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., and lives across town at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. "I'm not feeling as much soreness as I expected, and that's always a good thing because I'm able to get right back into training. We have the World Championships in a few weeks and that's the next big, important one."
Bowsher, Bremer, Brady and Sacksen will compete for Team USA at the 2011 Modern Pentathlon World Championships, scheduled for Sept. 8-14 in Moscow, Russia.
"The general goal is to go into each event and have a good result," Bowsher explained of the daylong competition that includes fencing, swimming, horseback riding, pistol shooting and cross-country running. "As far as placing, I would like to make the final, which would be a big deal because last year we did not have a U.S. guy make the final at the World Championships.
"Once you're in the final, it's whoever is feeling good that day," he explained.
Bowsher's best finish at the World Championships was 22nd in 2006.
"My swimming has been coming along," Bowsher said. "We've tweaked my stroke a little bit. My swimming at Nationals, aerobically it was one of the tougher races I've swam, but I was only .7 off what I did in Brazil down at sea level. I attribute that to a good stroke technique -- being able to swim better when I'm tired and when the race doesn't feel that good. And I'm really getting the combined down."
At Nationals, Bowsher was in fourth place entering the final event, a 3,000-meter run combined with three rounds of pistol shooting. He was first to leave the final shooting stage and coasted to victory on the run with a combined event time of 11 minutes, 10 seconds.
"I was able to win pretty easily because I had a really good combined event," he said. "So, yeah, I'm feeling good. It's good that I'm getting it down now during this Olympic qualification year."
Bowsher is not superstitious about winning national championships only during odd-numbered years: 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
"To me, it's just a coincidence," he said. "It's a strange coincidence, but each time I go out to a competition I put everything out there and do my best. It just so happens that I've been winning every other year."
Less than a year before the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Bowsher prefers taking every event in stride rather than looking ahead to London.
"I'm not really thinking that far ahead yet," he said. "I'm more thinking about the next competition, doing well at that competition, and then looking back at the qualification year at the end maybe I can say, 'Good year, I'm making the team.'
"For me, it's one competition at a time."
Unlike most sports that have U.S. Olympic Team Trials, the squads for Modern Pentathlon are based upon a yearlong system of ranking points and automatic qualifiers.
"The big one for us will be the Pan Am Games in October," Bowsher said. "After World Championships, we'll know the two-man team that goes."
The top North American and South American finisher, along with the next two finishers from other countries will earn automatic Olympic berths at the Pan American Games on Oct. 15 in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Bremer won the event at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he earned a trip to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Bowsher still hopes to atone for his sixth-place finish on that ill-feeling day in Brazil.
"I want to be one of the best in the world, not just best in the U.S.," said Bowsher, who is ranked 39th in the world by Union International de Pentathlon Moderne, governing body for the sport. "When we go to competition, there are probably 40 or 45 men who could win it, and they only take 36 in the final."