POSTED: Thursday August 9th 2012

Modern Pentathlon: Isaksen Fighting Back to Fitness

Winning gold at the Pan American Games gave Isaksen confidence
Winning gold at the Pan American Games gave Isaksen confidence

Isksen wants to do USA proud
Isksen wants to do USA proud

Isaksen is one of the fastest girls in the field
Isaksen is one of the fastest girls in the field

When Margaux Isaksen was crowned Champion of Champions last October, she felt she was on the right track to win an Olympic gold.

But in January Isaksen saw her life turn upside down after being diagnosed with mononucleosis.

The disease forced her to stay out of training for four months and almost ruined her whole season.

Thanks to a lot of determination and the support of coach Januez Peciak, Isaksen has left the bad memories behind and has become one of USA’s medal hopefuls in London.

“It really was devastating. At first, I thought it was going to last a couple of weeks, that I could take a break and I would still have plenty of time. Then, the months kept clicking and it got so much worse,” she said.

“My body got hit really, really hard. I was sitting in bed and I knew it was another week that I wasn’t training and then I told my coach: ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore.’

“I was able to train at 40 or 50 percent and it was so demoralising. I thought this year was completely over. Then I decided that I was going to train and do the best I could.

“I want to be an Olympic champion so badly. That’s the pinnacle of any athlete’s career. I really hope that I can do so one day. I know that it might not ever happen but I am going to give 115 percent to make sure that, when I get on the start line, I know that I am capable of it,” she added.

One of pentathlon’s prodigies, Isaksen was selected to represent USA at the Beijing Olympics at the age of 16, only three years after her debut in the sport.

Since then, the 20-year-old has had a list of titles under her belt, including US National, Youth World and Pan American championships.

“I definitely wouldn’t say that I am a veteran. I am still quite young to the sport. Most of the girls I have competed with have been doing this for 10, 15 years,” she said.

Isaksen might feel as a newcomer but admits that, since her first Olympic experience, she has been learning how to handle pressure better.

“In 2008, I felt nervous almost all year and thought: ‘oh my goodness, what if I go there and I’m not ready.’ It was really nerve-wracking,” she said.

“In the morning of the competition I was so incredibly nervous because the Olympics were my first big high pressure situation.

“I absolutely freaked out. I remember my coach trying to make me smile. I was eating breakfast in the village and I couldn’t eat because I was so nervous.

“Now I realised the only way to deal with high pressure is to be put in high pressure situations, because I know in London I’m going to be nervous. Even at practice, or at domestic competitions, you still feel the pressure and I think that’s good,” she explained.

Isaksen has also learned lessons from her personal hardship this year. It made her aware of her passion for the sport, whether having a medal around the neck, or not.

“I feel really blessed that I was given the genes to be able to do the sport, that my body is capable of everything that I put it through on a daily basis,” she said.

“I love pentathlon for so many reasons other than winning. It’s such an honour to be able to represent your country, to travel and to meet all those amazing athletes.

“I have friends all over the world that have become my family. The entire pentathlon community is so close and that has been the most amazing thing about being an athlete.”

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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 · Isaksen · USA · Margaux · American

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

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