Eighty eight years after the modern pentathlon made its Olympic debut, the women’s individual event was contested for the first time in Olympic history at the Sydney Games.
Its first silver medalist was Team USA’s Emily deRiel who broke a 16 year U.S. medal drought. At the time, the American’s last medal came at the Los Angeles Games where Team USA won silver in the now defunct men’s team event.
Since deRiel, the U.S. has been kept off the podium and now, another 16 years later, the American’s medal aspirations rest with sisters Margaux and Isabella Isaksen.
Margaux makes her third Olympic appearance. She finished 21st in her debut in Bejing and narrowly missed out on bronze in London, coming in fourth.
It will be an uphill climb for Isaksen though as she has struggled with injuries this year in what she has described as “the worst season of [her] life.”
She is known for her running ability but that was hampered by an ankle injury and stress fracture. It will be worth monitoring how she rebounds in Brazil after coming close to a medal in 2012.
Her sister Isabella makes her Olympic debut in Brazil. Though she is not expected to contend for a medal, the pentathlon has proven to be a fickle sport in the past. Her husband, Amro El-Geziry, will be competiting for Egypt in the men’s individual event.
Lithuanian Laura Asadauskaite will look to become the first woman to successfully defend her title in Rio. Since her win, she has placed first, fifth and fourth at the 2013, 2014 and 2016 World Championships.
Lena Schoeneborn of Germany had a disappointing finish at the 2012 Games. She placed fifteenth after struggling in the swimming and riding events but has resurged since then, winning Worlds in 2015 and placing third in 2016.
Great Britain’s Samantha Murray also figures to contend for a medal. Murray won silver in London and placed fifth at Worlds in 2015.
Brazilian Yane Marques will make her return to competition. She won Brazil’s first medal in the pentathlon in London where she earned bronze. She will look to improve on her 2012 finish in her own backyard; she has earned medals at two of the last three World Championships.
Two newcomers worth keeping an eye on are Hungary’s Zsofia Foldhazi and France’s Elodie Clouvel. Foldhazi won the 2015 World Cup and finished eighth at Worlds in 2016.
Clouvel has placed second at the 2015 European Championship and the 2016 World Championships and will look to become France’s first gold medalist in the pentathlon.