Suncoast chosen for several international pentathlon events

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SARASOTA-- The Suncoast can add several more events to its growing resume for sports tourism.

The Sarasota-Bradenton area has been chosen to host a number of pentathlon events beginning next summer with the International World Cup Finals. In 2015, the first-round of the World Cup will happen here, and in 2016, the area will host the U.S. Olympic trials along with the International World Cup Finals happening once again. 

"It's incredible," said Nicole Rissler, the Director of Sports with Visit Sarasota County. "These are the athletes you will see competing in the Olympics in Rio."

All of the events will take place at Nathan Benderson Park and the Selby Aquatic Center. Benderson Park will host the World Rowing Championships in 2017.

"We always knew that if we built the right venues we would start winning the battle. Who wouldn't want to come to Sarasota," said Rissler.

The pentathlon is an Olympic event that consists of five sports, including, swimming, shooting, equestrian, running and fencing.

"To be able to concentrate and focus on five separate things is very impressive, said Tripp Schwenk of Sarasota. In 1996 Olympics, Schwenk won a gold and silver medal in swimming. He says pentathlon athletes are some of the hardest working in the world.

"These are the same level athletes you have in every other sport. These people train for these five disciplines just as hard as I did for swimming," he said.

Paul Blackketter from Benderson Park and former U.S. Representative Katherine Harris were instrumental in bringing the events here.