POSTED: Thursday July 19th 2012

Modern Pentathlon: Gheorghe, Like Father, Like Son

Gheorge with his Pan American Silver Medal
Gheorge with his Pan American Silver Medal

Gheorghe shooting at the 2011 Pan American Games
Gheorghe shooting at the 2011 Pan American Games

Gheorghe fencing at the 2011 Pan American Games
Gheorghe fencing at the 2011 Pan American Games

What do engineering and modern pentathlon have in common? More than most people imagine, at least for Andrei Gheorghe.

The 24-year-old is getting a civil engineering degree at the end of the year but, before the final exams, he has a harder task ahead: competing at his first Olympic Games.

Since securing a London spot by claiming silver at the Guadalajara Pan American Games in 2011, Gheorghe has been dividing his time between training and books.

“When you are at university you get distant from sport and sport distances you from studies. So, by doing both, there is a balance, it’s tiring just focusing on training or on studying so one complements the other,” he said.

“Sport benefits you in anything you do in life, it teaches you to have discipline and to organise your time, it’s something I can use at university.”

In Gheorghe’s case, modern pentathlon meant more than that. It made him feel at home in an unknown country and get closer to his family.

The Romanian-born was 13 when he moved with his parents to Guatemala.

To help adjusting to the new life, his father Marian - a former Olympian who finished 7th at the 1992 Barcelona Games - introduced Gheorghe to the sport and became his coach.

“When I moved to Guatemala I didn’t have any friends. It was hard to move from Europe to Central America, that has a very different culture. Pentathlon helped a lot,” he said.

“When we were in Romania, my father worked during the week and I barely saw him. Now we are together during trainings and at home so it’s good to spend so much time with him.

“He is not a very emotional person but you could see that when I qualified he was happy to know that I will have the opportunity to see how the Olympic Games are.

“He is tough with me and with everybody, that’s his personality and that’s why he was a good athlete,” he added.

Eleven years later, Gheorghe considers Guatemala his home country, especially after the Pan American Games medal brought more attention to the sport.

“I spent my teenage years in Guatemala so I feel very connected to the country. Sometimes I feel more Guatemalan than the ones who were born there,” he said.

“I feel I take competitions more seriously, I give everything I can for a result and for whom I am representing.

“It’s a developing country and people get very emotional with results. Until the Pan American Games, a lot of people didn’t even know what modern pentathlon was.

“Then the media awareness grew and now children are practicing it so it helped develop the sport. My training centre is getting crowded and I hope that, if we have more results, we will have more places for people to practice it,” he added.

Gheorghe admits a medal in London is out of reach but has other plans for his Olympic debut.

“My goal is to make my rival’s lives impossible,” he joked.

“I also know I need to concentrate on the technical events, which are my strength, then try to balance with swimming, which is my weakness.

“Competing at the Olympics is my highest goal so far but I am also a student so it’s hard to go to a lot of competitions and miss university; it’s also expensive because I am far away from Europe,” said Gheorghe.

In December, when the time comes to receive the diploma, the engineer will still want to be a pentathlete.

At least, for as long as his body can take it.

“As soon as I graduate I will have to start working because I need to get experience but I want to stay in sport as much as I can. I don’t want to keep doing it until I am 40 but I have to enjoy it while I am still young.”

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Keywords · Modern Pentathlon · London 2012 · Pentathlon · Pentathlete · Olympics · Olympic Games · London · UIPM · IOC · Coubertin · Run · Shoot · Swim · Ride · Fence · Great Britain · gold · champion · Gheorghe · Romania · Andrei · Guatemala · Pan American

Name: Matt Pound
Organization: Union Internationale De Pentathlon Moderne - UIPM
Phone: +377 9777 8555

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