Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Women Narrow Field on Day 1

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Women Narrow Field on Day 1

Article excerpt

SEMIFINALS: The idea is to qualify without expending too much energy

SARASOTA -- To understand the essence of the World Cup semifinals in Modern Pentathlon, one needs to be in the judging tent at the close of the day.

It's where coaches and teammates cram forward, reaching for scoring sheets that reveal the 36 competitors (out of 100) that have enough points to make the finals.

It's where Oktawia Nowacka, the champion of the World Cup Final held here last year, stands, pensive and disappointed because she's been knocked out this year.

It's where Margaux Isaksen, a 23-year-old American standout, pushes through the crowd, grabs a sheet and stares at it intently.

"Thank God, thank God," she says over and over again, because this is the part where the waiting game ends, where pentathletes learn whether they've performed well enough to move on, and both crying and excitement can be heard in dozens of languages. And, today, her teammates Isabella Isaksen and Samantha Achterberg have made it.

Achterberg, 22, and Isabella Isaksen, 21, kept close to each other throughout the final combined event, posting times fast enough to earn the No. 32 and No. 33 spots in the final 36. Their place had been uncertain. U.S. coach Janusz Peciak tried to calculate the points from the finish line.

"I'm excited," Achterberg said after the competition. "My whole family is here. You don't want to be here for just one day."

She was interrupted by Isabella Isaksen.

"We did it," Isaksen said, and the teammates embraced.

Anastasiya Prokopenko, of Belarus, Anna Burjak, of Russia, and Tamara Vega, of Mexico, made up the top three after the semifinals concluded Wednesday.

Athletes competed within three random groups, with the top eight in each group earning automatic spots in the finals scheduled for Friday. The next 12 seeded athletes rounded out the final 36 competitors. …

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