Modern Pentathlon might not be one of the best known Olympic sport disciplines, but it is truly one of the most interesting and diverse. The discipline itself possesses an interesting history and has suffered numerous changes over time.
It has its origins in ancient Greece where pentathlon was the climax of the ancient Olympic games. Back then, it consisted of running, jumping, spear and disc throwing and wrestling.
A discipline that has been celebrated for more than twelve centuries, has its foundations in religious, military, gymnastic and philosophical concepts. The Olympic Games, celebrated in honor of Zeus, were rituals in which the contestants participated in order to serve the Gods. Strong physical preparation and the combination of the disciplines prepared the athletes for real combat, which was obviously seen as a military. Moreover, body, mind and soul were thoroughly studied and the ability of mastering different disciplines meant a great control of the three concepts.
As one of the most important events of the games, the winner was crowned “Victor Ludorum” and was considered to be the “ultimate” athlete, who could excel in more than one discipline.
The appreciation for pentathletes was such, that most of the statues depicting athletes with discs or javelins were mostly pentathletes. The versatility of this sport gave pentathletes a different physical composition, developing a well-balanced muscularity, the reason why sculptors, poets and artists held them in high regard.
Modern pentathlon was introduced in the summer Olympic games of 1912, consisting of modern disciplines with the essence of its ancient counterparts.
As in ancient pentathlon, De Coubertin, father of Modern Olympic Games, believed that “this event would test an athlete’s moral qualities as much as his physical resources and skills, producing the ideal and complete athlete.”
The modern version is made up of the contemporary sports of pistol shooting, fencing, as well as swimming, horse riding and running, demanding courage, coordination, physical fitness, self-discipline and flexibility.
Marvin Dogue, a 20-year-old athlete, world record holder and world champion visited us in Munich during the Oktoberfest or as he would say, the Wiesn (in Bavarian).
We had the opportunity of shooting some cool photos and interviewing him.
He grew up with his mother and brother, Patrick, in Oberdorfen, Erding county, next to Munich, Germany, where he started with sports by playing football at a young age. Talent scouts for modern pentathlon visited their soccer club, his brother took a chance and he was spotted as a potential talent for the discipline.
When we asked him “Why pentathlon?” he answered with a big smile:
“Well, my brother was recognized as a potential talent, and I followed him as little brother. Moreover, as siblings, there is always this feeling of competition between each other and so we try to get better and better, or so it was with football, and would be and is with pentathlon.”
Marvin started his pentathlon training when he was only 8 years:
“What I find very motivating about the discipline is that pentathlon is not one sided. You have the opportunity to practice 5 different sport disciplines, where you will never get bored by training. Moreover, as a child, it was very interesting to have the opportunity to wield a dagger or to use a pistol. I had to learn how to enjoy horseback riding at the beginning, but with time it worked out.
Do you have a favorite discipline?
“My favorite disciplines are shooting and fencing, where I hold a world record for shooting (hitting 5 shots with a time of 5.9” during the semifinals for the World Cup qualifications in Cairo in March 2014) and fencing is one of the most entertaining disciplines, since it is a contact sport there are a lot of emotions and energy flow!”
Practicing 5 disciplines at the highest level demands a big investment in terms of time, motivation and a clear goal. We asked Marvin to tell us about this:
“(…) Sport is everything to me, more precisely modern pentathlon. My life has revolved around this discipline for the last 15 years and it is my passion. (…) I wake up every morning and have breakfast, and then go to my training. When I notice that the hard part is coming, where I have to push myself through it, in this moment I only have my goal in mind, which in this case is attending the Olympic games for the first time in Tokyo”
Great goals require great sacrifice
We asked Marvin about his daily routine and how he prepares every day for his next competition.
“When I was at school, I woke up at 6:40 am, had breakfast and started school at 07:30 am. At 9:30 I had my first training session for 2 hours, had a lunch break for 30 mins until 12:00, when I had to go to school again until 03:30pm. I had another lunch break then for 30 mins to subsequently train again at 04:00 pm for 3 or 4 hours depending on the disciplines. My day was indeed only changing between school and sport and lots of food in-between. They were good times!”
What comes to your mind before every competition?
“(..) I normally stay cool. I am calm and try to enjoy my time amusing myself, dancing around, listening to some music and make some jokes with the other athletes. But when it is about shooting, the situation is different. Before the tryout I repeat every small movement and technique in my mind. I say to myself ‘you've done this a thousand times, why should this time be any different? You just have to repeat it once more.’ (…) When I get to shoot, I slowdown in the last 20 to 10 meters before shooting and use this opportunity to breathe deeply, calm down and increase my concentration until I feel ready again for the next shot.”
You practice 6-8 hours a day? What do you have to eat for that?
“Well, I am very lucky that I don’t have to count calories at all (laughing out loud), this is an advantage. In the morning I eat oatmeal with honey and yoghurt most of times, for lunch, around 12, I eat some noodles with meat and in the evening I also eat something rich in carbohydrates. I could say that now I am very happy since I am living by myself and cooking on my own, because portions can be bigger. When I was living at school dormitories the food portions were limited and I was to stuck with some tomato sauce and piles of noodles. But something that I do not eat at all is sweets. Apples though are my thing, my fuel, my prize.”
Preparing for one sport already requires a lot of organization, this is why we asked Marvin about how does he organize the training schedule for 5 disciplines.
“It is normally organized in such a way so that we train 3 to 4 different disciplines a day. For example, on Mondays we train running and shooting early in the morning and in the afternoon we do some athletics and swimming. Whereas Wednesdays is a full day, training athletics and swimming in the morning and running, shooting, and fencing in the afternoon. We train horseback riding once a week, when we visit a horse club where we can ride their horses and we train normally Thursday afternoon.”
Do you have a recipe for success? What would you say to other athletes?
“The most important thing in sports is that you have to enjoy it, and never believe that you are the best. Because there will always be other athletes that are better than you and therefore you have to train again and again (…). But, regarding the world record, you should never get to the point where you are satisfied, because there is always more.”
What do you consider to be your biggest achievements so far?
“In sports I consider the world champion title in the male relay to be my biggest achievement so far. During the past few years I was still competing in the youth championships, and already in my first year in the men’s category of the highest class, I could fulfill my dream of a gold medal in a world championship. And my second biggest achievement is the world record in shooting, where the record stays for one and a half years and I hope to break it soon.”
One big motivation in sports is victory, but the way to victory is a lifestyle. Marvin told us something very interesting when we asked about his biggest competitor:
“Well I don’t think of it this way. In sports you have to always fight for more and not something specific. You have to try again and again. You have to enjoy what you are doing, because when you do not enjoy it, the whole thing is useless. Just think about it, forcing yourself without enjoyment does not work. Sport is not only about training, it is also about being aware of your nutrition, rethink your daily routine, your lifestyle. Going early to bed, you have to watch out not to overdo anything.”
As a swimmer sometimes I thought that I was missing out on stuff during weekends or at some parties. Saturday morning training didn’t allow me to go out very often. This is why we asked Marvin regarding his different lifestyle:
“Well you could say that the life of an athlete is restricted or limited, but it would be wrong. It is a full life, because when you get to taste success, you get to experience a lot of other things, traveling around the world for an instance, going to places like China, USA, or Mexico. And when I think about it, since my mom is a single parent, I don’t think that 10 years ago she could imagine me and my brother going to the US for a 4-week-long training camp. There is a cost to everything in this world and thank to these sacrifices I now have this opportunity, thanks to the support of the federation and other sponsorships who provide me with the monetary means to live these experiences.”
If not a pentathlete, what would you rather be?
“If I weren’t an athlete, another dream for me was becoming a presenter or a musician. Maybe a hotel reviewer, traveling around the globe, writing reviews, enjoying life.”
A big journey always starts with one step, but there is always something that triggers this first step. This is what Marvin told us when we asked him about inspiration:
“My inspiration is my training team, consisting of 4 guys: my brother, two other friends and myself. We support and cheer each other. We go out and start our training together, we have fun together. We really have a good team spirit. We are like a small family that has one objective. They are my inspiration.”
We also asked him about the tough times that everyone faces throughout our endeavors:
“When things were not going well, I admit that I have had the thought of stopping, like many other performance athletes. But when it gets to this point, my trainings group is always there to help me, since they are my friends, my family. When you have a problem or don’t perform well, the others are there and support you. We share words like: ‘Hey don’t worry, next time will be much better’ or ‘you can do it!’ and ‘you will make it!’”
What came to your mind when you realized that you broke a world record?
“At the beginning I didn’t realize that I had set a world record. After the tryouts, I normally have a look at the results of the competition, and this time, when I had the opportunity to see my results, I saw the 5.9” and thought, “Wow what is that?! (…) I am aware that I am a good shooter, since during training I could achieve a 6,1” to 6,4” mark, and I thought that maybe I could set a new world record based on my training results, because the last record was 7.1”. But when I shot, scored and noticed that I was done, by my side there was still someone competing and it didn’t feel right. At this point I even thought that something was not right, or that I could have made a mistake and still had some shooting to do. But then I noticed that everything was alright and that my performance was very good. The federal trainer was there and when they heard about it, they congratulated me and I was very happy about the result.”
Marvin is a young and successful athlete with a big future ahead of him. He has the best support and inspiration with his brother and team by his side.
NO LEGEND IS MADE ALONE