Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

World Cup Events Go beyond Competition | Arts, Culture and Education Dovetail with Athletes' Bid for a Coveted Spot at Rio

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

World Cup Events Go beyond Competition | Arts, Culture and Education Dovetail with Athletes' Bid for a Coveted Spot at Rio

Article excerpt

MODERN PENTATHLON

SARASOTA -- In a quiet corner of the Gillespie Park Reading Room, Olympians Liston Bochette and Agnese Butler sat eye level with a group of schoolchildren who gather at the neighborhood center a few times a week.

"You learn lots of good lessons from sports, probably as much as you do from books, because you learn it from doing it," Bouchette, a five-time Olympian in the bobsled, told the group. Butler, a three- time Latvian Olympian swimmer who lives in Sarasota with her family, jumped in to the conversation, chatting with children about the power of sport and eating healthy.

The gathering was part of a series of "Olympian talks" hosted by the local organizing committee for the modern pentathlon events that have been hosted here for the past three years. Next week, Sarasota- Bradenton hosts the last of five 2016 World Cup events held throughout the world; it is the final opportunity that international pentathletes will have to tally enough competition points to earn one of 33 qualification spots at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The event is expected to feature roughly 70 athletes from more than 28 nations in a three-day competition where athletes fence, swim, ride horses, run and shoot a laser pistol.

"The Olympic experience can come home to Sarasota," said Elln Hagney, director of cultural affairs for the local organizing committee, at a press conference on Wednesday.

"It doesn't have to be in Rio thousands and thousands of miles away. It's been happening right here."

Three years ago, when Sarasota-Bradenton won a bid to host modern pentathlon's 2014 World Cup Final, 2015 World Cup No. 1 and the 2016 World Cup Final, it was "close to a miracle," said Bochette, who credited former Secretary of State Katherine Harris' influence and passion for bringing the sport to Southwest Florida and winning the three-year bid. …

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