First appearing in the 1912 Stocholm Olympic Games, the 2012 modern pentathlon will look to take center stage during the London Games on the sport's 100th anniversary.
Ah, the modern pentathlon, a one-day shooting, fencing, horse riding and running affair—a multidisciplinary event that discriminates against all except the very best all-around athletes in the world.
Since 1984 and the USSR's boycott of the Los Angeles Games, Team USA has not won a single medal in the modern pentathlon's team competition, with Emily De Riel taking home an individual women's silver at the Sydney Games in 2000. Meanwhile, the USSR and Russian Federation has continued to dominate the five-phase contest.
Training is already underway at the U.S. Olympic Training Center Complex at Team USA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Under the tutelage of Olympic Development Camp coach and Olympic Champion Janusz Peciak, let's preview Team USA's chances in London.
With just three athletes qualified to compete for Team USA, each will have to be on point to have success in London.
Team USA's only chance to medal on the men's side is a proven gold medal winner, though with one significant caveat. Bowsher's track record in international competition provides a true overview of Team USA's chances, finishing just 35th during the 2007 World Cup in Mexico City and 22nd during the 2010 World Cup in Great Britain.
Stettinius has fared better than Bowsher internationally, compiling a bronze during a Chengdu World Cup and gold in Guadalajara, though she suffered slightly in failing to advance past the semifinals during the World Championships in Moscow (all 2011).
Routinely taking first place in all domestic competitions, Isaksen has also picked up a few international medals, snagging the silver during 2010's World Cup, No. 1 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and the gold at both Guadalajara's Pan Am Games and Sicily's Champion of Champions. Ranked 25th best in the world, Isaksen will be Team USA's best shot in London.
The UIPM (Union International de Pentathlon Moderne) is the governing body responsible for ranking the world's best five-event athletes and, on the men's side, the UIPM has ranked Russians Aleksander Lesun (pictured, left), Andrei Moiseev and Ilia Frolov as Nos. 1, 2 and 3.
On the women's side, Lithuania's Laura Asadauskaite has claimed the top spot, while German Lena Shoneborn and Great Britain's Mhairi Spence round out the podium positions.
When: The men will compete on Aug. 11, starting their day at 3:45 a.m. ET (Good Morning, USA!). The competition is expected to cease and a champion will be named less than 12 hours later. The women will follow suit on Aug. 12, though their wake-up time will be 45 minutes earlier, with fencing scheduled for exactly 3:00 a.m. ET.
Venue Information: The London 2012 modern pentathlon will begin with the fencing competition in the city's Copper Box while the Aquatics Centre will host the pentathlon's 200-meter swim. Third up is the horse show jumping course at Greenwich Park followed by the thrilling conclusion of the three-kilometer run and shoot competition throughout the city.
Team USA has not medaled in team competition since the USSR boycotted the Games in 1984 nor individually since 2000.
This fate appears destined to repeat in 2012 as no U.S. pentathlon athlete is presently ranked in the world's Top 20—with such competition, it is highly improbable that Bowsher, Stettinius or Isaksen will find a podium position by Games' end.
Instead, expect a tight battle involving Great Britain favorite Mhairi Spence, who will attempt to crash the podium on the women's side as Nicholas Woodbridge does on the men's.
Team USA will not gain any medals in this sport.
In preparation for their 2012 Olympic Games, the city of London in coordination with the International Olympic Comittee has compiled several points of trivia surrounding the modern pentathlon.
At Bleacher Report, we've compiled those and several more.
George S. Patton, US Army General, competed in the first Olympic pentathlon at the Stocholm Games in 1912. Surprisingly, the future General's weakest event was shooting, placing seventh in swimming, sixth in equestrian and fourth in fencing while finishing just 20th in the pistol portion. Patton finished fifth overall and was the only American to compete in the inaugural event.
Prior to the 21st century, the modern pentathlon was restricted to males. The first women's modern pentathlon took place in 2000, with Great Britain's Stephanie Cook taking home the gold.
Now a one-day event, the modern pentathlon formerly took place over four or five days, with no more than two events confined to any single day. That all changed in Atlanta 1996, when the IOC threatened to drop the event unless something drastic was done to popularize the sport.