POSTED: Monday July 30th 2012

Modern Pentathlon: One sport is not enough for Mr Cool David Svoboda

Svoboda will be one of the favourites for gold in London
Svoboda will be one of the favourites for gold in London

Svoboda will have to improve his fencing to have success in London
Svoboda will have to improve his fencing to have success in London

Will be more gold for Svoboda?
Will be more gold for Svoboda?

One Sport was not enough for Mr Cool Svoboda

When speaking to David Svoboda, you get the feeling he is one of those people that has it all figured out. With an eager smile and a relaxed perspective, he is simply the kind of person who does things because he doesn't have a reason not to.

Become a two-time Olympic athlete? No problem. Go skydiving? Done, 100 times over. Have your undergraduate thesis published? It´s in the works.

That's not to say it all comes easy to Svoboda. Quite the contrary. But in the face of adversity, Svoboda simply stares it down. This quality is precisely what makes him one of the top male modern pentathletes at the 2012 London Olympics.

Svoboda has been competing in modern pentathlon since he was 16 years old. He began the five-discipline sport after realizing his Olympic dreams as a swimmer would never materialize. But rather that give up, he opted to switch sports.

While his identical twin brother chose Ironman triathlons, Svoboda decided three sports was not enough for him. He needed five. Thus began a long journey of training three to four disciplines a day, six days a week, for the last 11 years.

Svoboda's Olympic aspirations materialized in 2004 when he qualified for the Beijing Olympics.
After garnering a silver medal at the World Championships in Hungary in May of 2008, Svoboda was poised to be a top contender in China.

“I thought id be able to fight for an Olympic medal in Beijing,” Svoboda revealed.

Early in the competition, all signs pointed towards the podium. Svoboda posted the top shooting score and had the third best fencing performance. However, everything changed when he crashed into a fence with horse, HunHun, during the riding portion of the competition. The accident led to a disappointing 29th place finish.

Most Olympic athletes, whether successful or not, opt to break from training after a Games. Not Svoboda.

In 2009, the Czech came back to finish second at World Championships in London, which he cites as one of his best moments in pentathlon.

“After that unlucky year (in 2008), I wanted to show to the others that I'm able to fight on the top,” Svoboda said. “It was a beautiful moment for me. I won three medals - two silver and one gold - so it was a very good competition for me.”

The two-time world championships silver medalist continued his strong performances throughout the Olympic cycle. He captured medals in three 2010 World Cup stops, as well as winning European Championships the same year.

However, Svoboda's Olympic qualification did not fare as easy as his competition record suggested it may be. In 2011, Svoboda failed to qualify for a spot in London.

While some questioned if he peaked too soon, Svoboda continued in stride. He was unfazed by his failure to qualify, maintaining confidence that he could qualify in 2012 with his world ranking.

As it turns out, he was right.

“I lost motivation in 2011,” Svoboda said matter-of-factly. “That is all. I just needed a rest. I was always motivated for London, but I lost the motivation with all the world championships and European championships and world cups. I was not enjoying the competitions.”
Instead, Svoboda found things he did enjoy, like sky diving and studying.

After a friend told Svoboda about tandem jumping, he calculated the health risk and decided there was no excuse not to give it a try.

“I don´t think about anything when I jump,” said Svoboda. “I love it. Before the first or second jump because you have to fight with yourself. You have to face your fears. It's good for your self confidence.”

It is clearly an attitude Svoboda has employed in all areas of his life.

A student of sports and physical education, he also wrote a thesis on rule changes in the 100-year history of pentathlon. Inspired by the most recent rule change to the sport, Svoboda impressed his professors with the topic so much there is talk of publishing the thesis as a book.

While Svoboda isn´t particularly fond of the new combined run and shoot format, he has been granted a second opportunity to make Olympic history this summer. But for him, it´s just another competition.

“My self confidence is on same level,” Svoboda said. “I don´t like the nervous faces during the competitions. I think if you are smiling, your mind is free, and your are able to compete much better.”

And so it goes for the Czech. With smiles, a clear mind, and all his fears confronted, no matter what his place is in London, he´s bound to finish on top.

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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 · Svoboda · David Svoboda · Czech Republic

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

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