My name is Samantha Achterberg, but I usually go by Sammy or Sam. I am 27 years old and have been competing in the sport of Modern Pentathlon for about 10 years now. I was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado, and currently train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO.
When I was younger I grew up swimming as well as played tennis and soccer on some local and eventually some competitive teams. My family was very active and I grew up skiing a lot as well as hunting. At about eight, I convinced my parents to let me start riding horses and eventually progressed to jumping. We ended up buying a horse and I learned a lot about responsibility with an animal’s life in my care. When I reached high school, I started cross- country and track, I also swam for the high school team.
I built up a huge passion for running as well as continuing my love for swimming. I was also riding and training my own horse on the side. It was a ton of work juggling all of the sports and school but it kept me focused and driven.
I heard about Pentathlon when I was 14 and thought it was interesting but crazy that anyone would compete in five events. When I was 18, I became more interested and did my first camp at the Olympic Training Center in March of 2010 which was followed by my first competition. From this competition, I qualified for Youth Worlds which would be in Uppsala, Sweden.
The summer after high school was when I went to my first international competition for Pentathlon in Sweden for Youth Worlds. I loved it but was unsure of the path ahead and if I really had what it took to be competitive in the Pentathlon world. The coaches felt strongly that I did and I took a shot and moved to the Olympic Training Center in August of 2010.
Since then I have won six US National Championships. I am currently on the National Team as well as the World Cup team. I have competed at multiple world cups as well as seven Senior World Championships and Junior World Championships in 2011, 2012, and 2013; competing individually and in relay and team events. I won the Silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Games which qualified my spot for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. I was an alternate for the 2016 Modern Pentathlon Olympic team so am looking forward to the 2020 season and making the Olympic dream come true and representing Team USA at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The road has been very challenging and lots of work; the training is rigorous due to all the events we compete in, but I absolutely love it that I am able to compete and train at this level. I have learned a lot about training and finding a balance in the events over the years to help keep my body healthy and working well to train and compete hard.
I know that there is still work to be done, but I am looking forward to this season to gain the experience needed on my path to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan . Hope you enjoy following me along my journey and thanks to those that have been so much support already!
To check out more about my story and journey click on the links below:
What is Modern Pentathlon?
Modern Pentathlon was one of the original Olympic sports and was in the first Olympic Games in 1912; there have been some changes with the length of events and amount of days the competition was held since the first Olympics. The sport includes fencing, swimming, equestrian, running, and shooting.
Fencing is one touch against each opponent where the person who got the touch is awarded a victory and the opponent has a defeat. Each bout can be up to a minute long and although it sounds short can be a long time when you have to fence 34 or more people.
Swimming is 200m and is the second event after the fencing.
The equestrian event is stadium jumping which consists of approximately 15 obstacles and the jumps can be up to 4ft. tall. Each competitor is drawn a random horse and they have 20 minutes to warm up and have 5 practice jumps in a different arena then they have to complete the jumping course to the best of their ability.
The running and shooting is the last event and is combined together into one. The combined event starts with shooting down 5 stationary targets at 10m with a laser air pistol then running 800m; this is done a total of 4 times making the run 2 miles and shooting down a total of 20 targets. The start of the combined is staggered based off the scores from the first three events which means that the athlete who crosses the finish line first is the winner which makes for a very exciting end of the competition.