Marie Oteiza, a passion for the pentathlon

Thursday, 29 september 2022

This pentathlete supported by Groupe BPCE recently won a bronze medal in the mixed relay at the European Championships (Hungary). Her ambition now is to put up a good performance in Paris 2024 in what is a constantly changing discipline. Let us give a word of explanation…

What do table tennis, wrestling, and modern pentathlon all have in common? They are, of course, all Olympic disciplines but not only that! They all want to retain this status at the next Olympics Games and, to make sure they do, they are updating their format at regular intervals to make their competitions more telegenic and more equitable…

After the Tokyo Olympics, the pentathlon began its transformation with the adoption of a more concise 90-minute format for the finals with competitions between the top 18 athletes. And it was also decided to introduce a new event in the near future to replace horse riding… but this will only be effective after Paris 2024.

In the meantime, Marie Oteiza is training with the French pentathlon team at the INSEP training center near Paris. Male and female athletes are working together on the mixed relay event, which is not yet included in the Olympics but already forms part of the World and European Championships. Competing with Ugo Fleurot, Marie Oteiza won the European bronze medal in Hungary a few days ago. This bodes well for the upcoming Olympic Games, where the competition will take place in the splendor of the Château de Versailles…

And, speaking of history, the pentathlon already formed part of the Ancient Olympic Games: it included running, javelin throwing, the long jump, discus throwing, and wrestling. It was the king of sports, the one that made it possible to identify the victor ludorum, the winner of the Games!

Marie Oteiza, double European champion in 2018

In 1912, Pierre de Coubertin was preparing the Stockholm Games and wanted to reintroduce a sport that recognized the multiple skills of an all-round athlete. He invented what is known as the ‘modern pentathlon’ with competitions in fencing, swimming, equestrianism, shooting, and cross-country running, with one event per day over a period of five days: a grueling program that remained in this form until 1980.

In that year, the competitions in the five sports were brought together into a single day, with points awarded for the first three events subsequently converted into time bonuses to determine the starting order of the final event. This final competition, a shoot-run race or chase event, is called the ‘combined’ event. The athletes stop at the shooting range and hit a target with a pistol, as in the biathlon, to decide between the competitors.

To make things even more difficult, the international federation recently decided to make the pentathlon more spectacular by condensing the event into a period of just 90 minutes. This represents a major challenge for the athletes, who have to complete a series of events that (it is true!) are shorter than before but allow no time for a rest. On the day of the video, during her training session, Marie had to complete four events with transitions of 15 minutes at most in order to put herself into competition mode.

Her training in the horse-riding event – which is a more complicated discipline logistically speaking – was organized the day before with the horses of the Republican Guard. This is Marie Oteiza’s strong point, along with fencing and swimming, her original discipline. It was through water sports that Marie discovered the pentathlon when she was 13. But she also wanted to practice horse-riding so she followed her older sister in the combined event to transform her love of the pentathlon into the realization of an Olympic dream today. After winning the European individual and team title in 2018, the young athlete from the Landes département in southwest France is now pursuing a single objective: to win a place on the podium in Paris 2024. But before that, she will have to qualify as one of the top 2 French women to be allowed to participate in the individual event.

Groupe BPCE companies currently support nearly 200 elite sportsmen and women from all over France, notably via the Performance Pact. This program is designed to achieve two objectives: to enable athletes, through sponsorship, training and professional retraining, to calmly pursue both their sporting and professional projects and, in the process, put them in the best possible position to perform well in forthcoming competitions, notably at the Olympic & Paralympic Games Paris 2024, which Groupe BPCE is supporting in its capacity as a Premium Partner.

“We share the same flame”