Allen Finishes 18th in Olympic Modern Pentathlon
By Tim Hipps
Special to American Forces Press Service
ATHENS, Greece, Aug. 27, 2004 Army Capt. Anita Allen defied all odds by finishing 18th in women's modern pentathlon today in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games at Goudi Olympic Complex.
She accomplished the feat despite undergoing left ankle surgery last November without having needed time to properly rehabilitate. She also missed nearly a year of healthy training for the Olympics before and after the operation.
The highlight of her five-sport performance here was a flawless, first-place ride aboard Dino in the equestrian show-jumping event. "My ride, gosh, I couldn't have asked for anything better," said Allen, 26, of Star City, Ind. "I did something well today, and just for a moment it felt really good."
Hungary's Zsuzsanna Voros won the gold medal with 5,448 points. Latvia's Jelena Rublevska took the silver with 5,380 points. Great Britain's Georgina Harland claimed the bronze with a 5,324 total.
Perhaps nobody had more reason to smile than Allen, who finished 18th with 4,996 points. "How could I not be happy?" she asked. "I'm at the Olympics. This was the best opportunity in the world. The whole experience was very encouraging and positive.
"Everyone has been so friendly and so incredible just the support I've gotten from friends and family and Soldiers. It's really made my day when I get e- mails from people I don't even know wishing me well, and people in the crowd saying, 'Captain Allen, great job. Go! Go! Go!' It's amazing how small the world can be."
Allen's feeling of accomplishment, however, was one long day in the making. She opened with a 22nd-place finish in 10-meter air pistol shooting and followed with 12 victories and 19 defeats in epee one-touch fencing, good for 26th place in the 32-woman field.
"Believe it or not, that was OK for me," said Allen, a member of the Army World Class Athlete Program. "Take my years' experience times three and you probably have the youngest one out there, so I was very happy with the fence."
Team USA's Mary Beth Iagorashvili, who finished 15th with 5,052 points, encouraged Allen throughout the fence, as did pentathlon teammate Army 1st Lt. Chad Senior, who competed the day before.
Allen's day worsened in the 200-meter freestyle, which she swam in 2 minutes, 31.16 seconds for a 29th-place finish.
On the 3,000-meter cross-country run, Allen, a former cross-country and track star for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., was disillusioned by passing only four women with a 10th-best time of 11:04.37.
What's the No. 1 thing Allen will take from the Olympic experience? "That if I put my mind to something that I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it," she replied. "And to believe in yourself if you have that dream, to go for it, and hopefully people will believe in you."
(Tim Hipps is assigned to the Army Community and Family Support Center Public Affairs Office.)