I originally interviewed Sammy Achterberg December 2014 and caught up with her again last week. That girl is awesome!
I'm so impressed with her in many ways. Keep your eye on her.
She was an alternate on the 2016 Rio Games Women Modern Pentathlon team. She's got her sights set on Tokyo 2020. She's a gifted athlete, which I'll tell you about in just a minute, but more importantly, she's a very grounded woman.
It helps that her parents are grounded as well and just good people.
Unlike many other Olympic sports, there is no qualifier for Pentathlon. Instead, athletes compete throughout the lead up to the Games in events that are scored. At the end of the events, which span about 10 months, the top two women from each country and top 36 overall are invited to compete in the Olympics.
What makes Sammy special is that she has natural talents and interests in many areas. Many pentathletes, at least from my limited observation, have a strength in one or two of the events, and learn the others.
Sammy, on the other hand, grew up hunting, so shooting came naturally to her. She got into horse riding early, so she had a leg up there. She played soccer, so running came naturally to her -- to see her run is an experience. She’s smooth, fast, and efficient. It’s a true delight to see someone who does what they do so well. I was giddy watching her blow by the others when I watched her at a competition a while back.
The other two sports, swimming and fencing, are not weak areas for Sammy. She feels her fencing needs work and she continues to hone her craft there. And although swimming may not be her strongest event, to see her swim is akin to watching her run. I was walking along the pool’s edge cheering her on during the competition and she was swimming faster than I was walking.
Having interviewed other Olympians it's clear that there are so many aspects to being a world champion athlete. Of course there is the physical conditioning, so you have either got to be incredibly talented or work incredibility hard; OK, it's really that you have to have both elements. Then there's the mental conditioning necessary to train and compete at those high levels, which is a whole other blog.
Then there's perspective on what really matters in life, which is not necessary to be a great athlete, but which is so vital to being a great human being. Sammy is impressive because she knows who she is, on what her real value and worth is based, and can still achieve the highest levels of success this world offers. Impressive indeed.