EN Today: Lauren Nethery’s Olympic dream

Lauren spent several years chasing around the elusive dream of representing the U.S. in eventing before dedicating herself to the pursuit of Plan B: becoming an Olympic pentathlete.

Lauren Nethery made it to the final four of the 2012 EN Blogger Contest.  Today Lauren tells us about her Olympic dreams, and how that led her to the sport of Pentathlon.  Thanks to Lauren for writing, and thank you for reading.


From Lauren:

For children all around the world, there comes a day in early education when they are a prompted with the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Fifteen or so six-year-olds, all “hopped up on Mountain Dew”, sat in a formation meant to resemble a circle, all clamoring to be heard all of those years ago. Amongst a barrage of professions like ‘doctor’, ‘astronaut’, ‘lawyer’, and ‘mommy’, I broke the mold, boldly proclaiming for the whole world of my elementary school to hear that I was going to be an Olympic Gold Medalist. And so began the long, arduous, crazy, beautiful, freaking holy-crap-start-selling-your-organs expensive journey towards golden glory. At six, I was already toiling away in long, dark barn aisles in exchange for the opportunity to ride ponies at Mach 2 over cinder blocks and 2 x 4’s so of course my first Olympic pursuits were pointed towards Eventing. I sat glued to the TV in 1996 watching our last truly legendary Olympic team pursue their gold medal dreams. I cried when they were not realized but was quick to sniff up those tears and rejoice in silver. By the time the new millennium rolled around and ushered in the next Olympic Games, I was convinced that my own Olympic glory was a mere four years away and did not despair when a measly Team Bronze was brought home. David and Tailor showed the world that an American could clench Individual Gold and it seemed blatantly obviously to me that between Karen, David, and I, Team Gold was just a flying change hop, cross country course skip, and stadium jump away. As 2004 approached, my youthful ignorance evaporated and the real world came crashing down around me, its jagged shards gilded not in gold but in political influence, reality, and etched with dollar signs. I started fencing during this time and tasted a bit of International glory with a sword that would later prove to serve me quite well. Unwavering in my devotion to all things Three Day, though, my first decade of the new millennium was spent doggedly pursuing the Olympic Eventing dreams that I had held for so long. I was extremely fortunate and am so very thankful for the Advanced horses I enjoyed competing, the young horses I was trusted with producing, and the many, many people that gave me a leg up and a shoulder to cry on. By the dawn of 2010, however, I had accepted that I was, if nothing else, financially a long way off from Olympic Eventing glory. Enter Plan B. August 25th, 2012 marked the beginning of my journey to Rio 2016…as a Pentathlete.

Somewhere over Utah, a little black bird exploded. Six pigs were killed. During this day and age, long plane rides absolutely necessitate Angry Birds. With the successful three-star completion of Part 3 of Level VII, I turned my iPad off and stared into the inky abyss beyond my little port hole. My neighbor, actually in the window seat, drooled carelessly in his slumber, little bits of Biscoff cookie still adorning his ample lap. The Captain alerted us to the beginning of our initial descent into the Seattle area (We’re losing altitude? You don’t say! I was hoping that was the reason you just dropped the wheels. Duh.) and about this time it occurred to me that I had no idea how to start off blocks, had never fenced a one-touch bout, could not even begin to envision what sort of target I might be shooting at, could not sprint for more than 200m without hopping around like a pogo stick favoring my bad knee, and had not ridden anything that was not hot blooded in what seemed like eons. No matter. In four days’ time I would be a newly branded, bona fide, kind of official but mostly still wannabe Pentathlete. I floundered like a moose fallen into a frozen lake in the pool and ran like I had all month to finish but fencing, riding, and (surprisingly) shooting all came very easily. The people were amazingly kind, the horses were generous and willing, the competitors were helpful and encouraging, and without the tremendous help of EN’s own Jane Rusconi (JER) I would probably still be bobbing in the pool. Jane was kind enough to allow a complete stranger to show up at her door with boyfriend and father in tow, lend that complete stranger a FIREARM immediately, and help said stranger (me) in every way imaginable. I cannot thank her enough. I did try to repay her generosity just a tiny bit by riding her adorable pony horse, Ace, who is undoubtedly on track to be the next Teddy O’Connor, but that was not nearly enough. If any of you are ever in Vancouver, do make her acquaintance. You won’t regret it. By the time Monday dawned over Mt. Baker in Maple Ridge, BC, I had managed to compile both an individual and a team competition beneath my belt and slate another Pentathlon on the horizon in October in Guelph. I headed south with a renewed compulsion to sink my teeth into the gold of an Olympic medal and I have high hopes that Rio will be a 2016 travel destination for me. For all of you out there thinking that I surely must be bonkers, hear this: chase you dreams, even the big ones; don’t let anyone stand in your way; and if you can fence, swim, ride, run, and shoot…or even just one or two of those things, give Pentathlon a try. Shakespeare, in his play Measure for Measure, cautioned that “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we might oft win by fearing to attempt.” Fear failure, fear spiders, fear a world without chocolate but do not, under any circumstance, ever, ever fear to attempt.

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