Modern Pentathlon: A Marriage of Arts and Athleticism

Arts & Culture

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY FEB 20, 2015

With the 2015 Modern Pentathlon World Cup 1 coming to a close this weekend, the Sarasota Bradenton Modern Pentathlon Organizing Committee (SBMPOC) is gearing up to celebrate with a weekend of events designed to engage more than Sarasota’s athletic appetite. With a celebration tonight with Circus Sarasota, another one tomorrow with Big Top Brewing Company and the closing ceremonies the following Sunday in Nathan Benderson Park, featuring presentations from six Sarasota artistic organizations, the SBMPOC wants Sarasota to remind the world that these events used to be about more than just athletics.

“When we were awarded this bid to have four Modern Pentathlon events here in Sarasota, one of the things that they asked us to do was to infuse arts and education back into this particular event,” said Elln Hagbey, Sarasota Bradenton Modern Pentathlon Cultural Affairs Director. “Prior to 1948, one of the disciplines of the Olympics was arts and education, and they gave out awards to that effect.”

The SBMPOC was sure that Sarasota could rise to the challenge and started contacting local organizations to contribute not only to individual events but throughout the entire production. For example, Ringling College of Art and Design, which provided a well-received logo for the events last year, continued its partnership with SBMPOC this year with students designing multiple aspects of the Pentathlon’s media campaign.

In an event fitting of Sarasota’s cultural history, tonight’s festivities feature a collaboration with Circus Sarasota, bringing some of Sarasota’s circus arts into the mix under the guidance of Guest Ringmaster Klaus Schormann, president of the International Union of Modern Pentathlon, and with an appearance from Nik Wallenda and the Flying Wallendas. Pentathletes from around the world will have the chance to see Sarasota’s circus traditions and even take part in their own way. “We wanted our athletes to have a local experience while they’re here,” said Hagney, and the following day over at Big Top Brewing Company, locals will have the chance to mingle with the athletes as they explore the growing craft brew culture here on the Suncoast.

To fittingly cap off the Modern Pentathlon with the closing ceremony at Nathan Benderson Park, the SBMPOC reached out to six cultural organizations in the community, including the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, the Jacobites Pipe and Drum Band and Sarasota Sailor Circus. “We selected groups that represented different aspects of Sarasota’s cultural side,” said Hagney. The ceremony opens with a presentation from Hermann’s Royal Lipizzans – the renowned stallion breed famously saved by General George S. Patton during World War II. As circumstance would have it, Patton would go on to become the US Army’s first representative to compete in the first modern pentathlon held for the 1912 Olympic Games. “It couldn’t be a more fitting organization to kick off our closing,” said Hagney.

The combination of high-end athleticism and quality cultural programming puts Sarasota on the map internationally as a venue for world-class competitions and events, according to the SBMPOC. “But more than that,” said Hagney, “we can be a beacon to other organizations through the Olympic movement to rethink how to bring arts and education back into the movement.”

The Pentathlon Night At Circus Sarasota begins tonight at 7pm at Nathan Benderson Park. The Pentathlon Night at Big Top Brewing Company begins Saturday at 7am at Big Top Brewing Company, ending at 10pm. The closing ceremony at Nathan Benderson Park on Sunday begins at 5:10pm.

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