Army Athlete Finishes 32nd in Olympic Modern Pentathlon
By Tim Hipps
Army Installation Management Command
LONDON, Aug. 13, 2012 Spc. Dennis Bowsher of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program finished 32nd here Aug. 11 in the Olympic men’s modern pentathlon, a five-sport event.
Bowsher tallied 5,324 points in the daylong competition that featured epee one-touch fencing, 200-meter freestyle swimming, horseback show jumping and cross-country running combined with laser-pistol shooting.
“I didn’t have the best of days today, but looking back, there are no regrets,” said Bowsher, 29, a native of Dallas who is stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. “I’m taking everything positive out of it. I really enjoyed my experience. … I didn’t win a medal today, but I was here to at least have a chance at a medal. Only 36 people in the world can say that.”
David Svoboda of the Czech Republic won the event with an Olympic record 5,928 points. China’s Zhongrong Cao (5,904) took the silver medal, and Hungary’s Adam Marosi (5,836) claimed the bronze.
Svoboda began the day with an Olympic record 1,024 points in fencing, with 26 victories and nine defeats against the field of 35 other competitors.
Bowsher had nine victories and 23 defeats in fencing, which left him in 34th place with 688 points after the first event.
“I think I was just a little late with my reactions,” Bowsher said. “I was fighting, but just a little too late, and people would hit me first before I hit them. Something I might change next time is fencing with the French grip, as opposed to the pistol grip. It just seems like the style in fencing now.
“The goal going in was to go .500 in the fence,” he continued, “but it’s one of those things where you try to take some risks and maybe they work in your favor, and then the downside is that they don’t and you have a lot of touches that go against you.”
Bowsher gained some ground with the 18th-best performance in the pool by swimming the 200-meter freestyle in 2 minutes, 5.15 seconds, his best time of the season, which was good for 1,300 points. He left the Olympic Aquatics Centre in 30th place.
“It was only a couple tenths off my personal best, so I’m happy with it,” Bowsher said. “Of course, I wanted to get a [personal] best time, but I’m happy with that one.”
Modern pentathletes get 20 minutes to acquaint themselves with an unfamiliar horse they ride over 12 barriers in the show jumping event. Bowsher posted the 29th best ride of the day aboard Vito for 1,076 points, leaving him in 31st place for the final combined event of running and shooting.
Vito initially refused the first jump on the course, which startled Bowsher, who quickly recovered.
“In warm-up, he would almost gain energy to the jump,” Bowsher said. “So it was like ‘no leg’ -- I didn’t give him any leg in warm-up. I just assumed that he was just going to be exactly the same out here. Looking back, maybe I could have corrected it quickly enough with a little bit better reaction, but we were sluggish to that first jump.
“Afterwards,” he added, “it was, ‘Oh, you’re going to play that game? I’m going to spur the heck out of you to get you over the rest of the jumps.’”
Bowsher could not help but hear the hush come over the crowd at Greenwich Park as Vito refused the first obstacle.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is jump one, and all these people are watching me.’ But we were able to get it around the rest of the time.”
The hills outside the stadium somewhat drained Bowsher on the run, but he remained consistent and posted the 30th fastest time in the combined event.
“The run was OK,” he said. “The hills were a little bit more taxing than I thought they would be, but it was a beautiful course. I haven’t talked with my coach yet about my splits, but I think it was OK.”
Bowsher did, however, lose some time on the shooting range.
“The first and third shoots were not very good,” he said. “I may have been shooting a little bit too fast, because the shots were just outside of the black. I wasn’t missing way off, but just off the target.”
All in all, Bowsher said, he will take this performance and soldier on.
“I have no regrets,” he reiterated. “Experience-wise, I’m looking forward to doing it again in four years. Today wasn’t the best of days, but after nine years of doing this sport and having WCAP support me, it’s not the end goal, it’s a journey.”
Bowsher re-enlisted July 16 during a WCAP Olympic Media Day event with Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, commander of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command and the Army’s assistant chief of staff for installation management.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” Bowsher said of getting re-enlisted by a three-star general. “It’s an awesome memory that I’m going to have and an awesome experience that’s a part of my life – just another wonderful thing that WCAP has given me.”
Now that the 2012 London Games are history, Bowsher looks forward to training toward Rio de Janeiro, site of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
“This is really the cream of the crop of our sport, because everyone had to qualify to get here,” he said. “I knew it was going to be tough coming in. It just didn’t go my way today. … I really look forward to training for the next four years.”