“Oh my gosh! I haven’t grasped it yet, I’m kind of like ‘whoa, did that really just happen?’” said Kelly. “That was the mission and I am so thankful to everyone that has helped me along the way. There are so many people that even just a nice word of encouragement, the Army, coaches, teammates, family and friends. It’s unbelievable. This whole thing has been phenomenal. These Pan Am Games were so much fun. I was able to enjoy it and perform well. I wanted to use it as kind of a tool to gauge what it would be like at the Olympic Games and I feel like I achieved that. I’m happy with my performances today. It was stressful, it was really stressful out there and I pulled through with decent performances. You dream of it and you try to put everything in position so that you can have it and when it does you’re kind of like ‘did I really just do that?’ I’m ecstatic! I’m just so excited.”
Kelly scored a total of 5,484 total modern pentathlon points to finish with the bronze behind host country favorite Yane Marques of Brazil who won the gold with 5,484 and Canada’s Monica Pinette who grabbed the first NORCECA Olympic qualifying slot with her silver medal performance. Kelly started off with a shooting score of 170 for 976 modern pentathlon points. In the fence, she recorded 12 victories with 14 defeats. Her swim time was 2:26.75 for 1,160 points. Her riding score was 1,144. She entered the run in fifth place and picked off two competitors with her run time of 10:33.55, the second fastest run time, for 1,188 modern pentathlon points.
Sheila Taormina (Livonia, Mich./Colorado Springs, Colo.) looked to be in prime contention to make history following the swim and going into the ride, but it was not to be today as her horse refused seven jumps adding up numerous penalty points and not finishing the course in the allotted time. Taormina sat in third place following the swim but finished the event in 11th place, largely due to the poor riding score. Taormina’s total score was 4,112 total modern pentathlon points. She started off with a shooting score of 161 for 868 modern pentathlon points. Taormina also fenced her way to 12 victories while suffering 14 defeats. As usual, Taormina dominated the swim with a time of 2:07.36 for 1,392 points. The riding score of only 100 is what did in Taormina’s day today. Taormina finished the day with a running time of 11:28.18 for 968 modern pentathlon points.
“After the shoot, I thought ‘I’m not going to make this team’; then after the swim I was in position to make the team, but after the ride there was nothing more to say,” said Taormina. “I think the emotional roller coaster was the most difficult thing. After the swim I called my mom and said ‘Mom, I’m in a position to make the team, say a prayer’. I could use every bit of help especially a mother’s prayer. I was just hoping, it would have been such a relief (to have qualified for the Olympics). Being so new to these sports, it’s been really stressful to try to pick them up in time and try to be proficient at the international level. I think the stress over two years of trying to learn these has been immense. I was kind of like ‘oh please relieve this pressure now’. But I’ve always learned from these types of things. A sport has never made me cry, but this one has. It’s so emotional. Maybe what I’m trying to do I question it all the time. Maybe it’s too much. Maybe that’s why no one has done it (make the Olympics in three different sports). Maybe I’m too old; not physically but to go through these roller coaster of emotions. But I’ll bounce back. I’ve got good support from family, friends and coaches, U.S. Olympic Committee. I’ll bounce back. I’m really happy the United States has a medal and that Mickey got her Olympic slot. I’m happy for her, she deserves it. I’m going to try to figure out where I need to improve to hopefully be there with her as well.”
Taormina will have four more opportunities to make history by qualifying for her fourth U.S. Olympic Team in an unprecedented third sport. She will again have the opportunity at the 2007 World Championships, August 15-22 in Berlin, Germany. The top three medal winners will earn an automatic Olympic berth, as will the top finisher at the 2007 World Cup Final in September in Beijing, China. The top three finishers from the 2008 World Championships next May will also earn automatic berths. The remaining seven Olympic slots will be determined by the World Cup ranking from the Olympic qualifying season, June 2007 through June 1, 2008.
Taormina has already competed in the Olympic Games in the sports of swimming and triathlon. She won a gold medal in swimming at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., swimming the third leg of the 800m freestyle relay. She finished sixth and 23rd, respectively, in the triathlon at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia and the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Taormina’s top modern pentathlon World Cup performance came in March 2007 when she won the silver medal at World Cup #2 in Cairo, Egypt.
The top two male and female finishers among the NORCECA (North American) countries, but not from the same country will earn an automatic bid to the 2008 Olympic Games. Similarly, the top two male and female finishers among the South American countries will also earn an automatic bid to Beijing. Athletes who do not qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games at the 2007 Pan American Games will also have opportunities to qualify at the 2007 World Modern Pentathlon Championships, the 2007 World Cup Final, the 2008 World Championships and through World Cup ranking points. The United States can qualify a maximum of two female and two male athletes for the 2008 Olympic Games.