POSTED: Saturday August 4th 2012

Modern Pentathlon: Cerkovskis, 4 Olympics, but not quite a veteran

Cerkovskis is still getting good results finishing 4th at World Cup 3 this year
Cerkovskis is still getting good results finishing 4th at World Cup 3 this year

Cerkovskis is one of the greats
Cerkovskis is one of the greats

How will he do at his 4th Olympics?
How will he do at his 4th Olympics?

A fourth consecutive Olympic appearance puts Latvian Deniss Cerkovskis in the veteran category but he admits he has trouble coming to terms with his status as senior statesman in his sport.

“It still sounds strange and cannot accept it.  I don’t feel myself to be 33 year old. I feel that somewhere in my soul I am still young and that is why I am still doing this.” He said.

“When you get older, things get harder for you on the physical side, but the biggest advantage is the experience you get.”

He has a point, in Beijing two of the three medallists in the men’s competition were “thirty somethings.”

Cerkovskis himself has been active in the sport for almost twenty years but refuses to discuss retirement just yet.

“I do not want to think about it and I do not want to stop after the Olympics.” He said.“The next step in my life will be really hard for me because I have spent so much time in the sport. I would like to stay in sport and not just in one sport. I feel I have some good experience.” he said.

“Maybe I will try for a fifth Olympics. If I have enough motivation for myself and don’t have any health problems   and avoid injuries, why stop?  Thank god my wife Margarita is very understanding.”

With a masters degree in Sports Education and three languages at his command, - he speaks Russian, Latvian and English fluently- Cerkovskis is well prepared when the time does come. He also has a smattering of Italian after spending time in training camps and holidaying there.

“Somehow, I can communicate with Italians, I am not so good with the grammar, but a few simple phrases, I can say when I am tired, ask directions and so on, so I can find myself in Italy.”

“There are so many things around, I cannot choose. We will see, if I were to get a good offer, I’ll think about it much more than I would have done a few years ago. I know that some time sooner or later I will have to stop, but I would like to stay in sport in some way.” He said.

It will perhaps give him the time to pursue his other sporting passions.

“I cannot lay on the bed doing nothing. Sometimes of course I really need to do nothing, but I prefer sport activities to rest.”

As a skier he enjoys both alpine and Nordic styles,has tried ice skating, plays a bit of golf and took to waterskiing immediately.

“From the second time I was standing on the mono ski by myself. I said I’d like to do it again but sorry I don’t have time. It is only in Modern Pentathlon that I am a professional. For other sports I don’t have time to do them seriously.”

As a youngster, he was not as tall as many of his classmates but excelled in running and swimming. He swam for five years as a schoolboy.

Twice a year, he would compete against the local modern pentathletes. He performed well and the coach knew a prospect when he saw one.

“He contacted me and I agreed that I would give it a try it, because I knew this was a hard sport with many different things to train for.”

In three days in competition, he finished second in his age group in running and swimming.

“Of course that was extra encouragement to continue. I was thirteen and a half and for a boy of this age to go and shoot and fence was exciting. The others around me were growing up faster but the results I got were a great motivation.”

That was 1992. Now almost twenty years later, Cerkovskis is now lining up for his fourth Olympic Games.

“Each Games feels just as special for me because it is only once every four years.”

At the Athens 2004 Games he finished fourth only 36 points behind bronze medallist Libor Capalini of the Czech Republic after a gruelling competition in the Athenian sun.

Four years later he placed 11th in the rain in Beijing. London’s notoriously fickle climate could offer either or a combination of both.

“I am ready because our weather in Latvia is not so very different to that in the UK.Summer in Latvia is quite short. I am not superstitious, in pentathlon , you cannot be this is my opinion. You have to be ready for every type of weather raining, sunshine, hot cold, and I did competitions in any competition.”

He is now coached by Mihails Jefremenko a former team mate who now competes in fencing.

Deniss did not qualify for the 2O11 World Cup final which was held in Greenwich but watched at home on television. The steep hills cross country course will hold few terrors for him.

“I will not train specifically for this kind of course, but if you are prepared you will be able to run well anywhere. I am ready for London” he said.

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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 · Cerkovskis · Latvia · Latvian

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

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