LAKEWOOD RANCH — In a twist of fate, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc. and the Sarasota Polo Club will play an unexpectedly major role in the Modern Pentathlon World Cup Final scheduled June 4-8.
At a press conference Sunday morning at the Sarasota Polo Club in Lakewood Ranch, former Florida Secretary of State and Congresswoman Katherine Harris, chairwoman of the World Cup, announced four of five events in the World Cup final, including shooting, running, fencing and riding, have been moved from Sarasota’s newly constructed Nathan Benderson Park to the Sarasota Polo Grounds due to a scheduling conflict.
Swimming will still be at the Selby Aquatic Center in Sarasota.
Sarasota and Bradenton officials had originally submitted a date of June 11-15 as their choice for the World Cup Final because there were no events scheduled then at Nathan Benderson Park.
But international Modern Petathlon officials requested the event be moved back a week to June 4, which conflicts with an event already set at Nathan Benderson Park, said Paul Blacketter, president of the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center.
“We considered keeping things at Nathan Benderson, but we decided it would be easier for everyone to do it this way,” Harris said. “It worked out great. These are wonderful fields out here with excellent footing for the horses.”
Harris called Rex Jensen, president of SMR, and the two met to discuss moving the events to roughly 50 acres just west of the Sarasota Polo Club’s clubhouse.
“Rex was enthusiastic and just told me whatever he could do to help he wanted to do,” Harris said Sunday. “We’re all thrilled. We will be introducing the world of Modern Pentathlon to Sarasota Polo’s famous tailgating.”
The 2014 World Cup Final will showcase the top 36 male and 36 female pentathlon athletes from around the world. Future events will include preparation for competitors in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, giving locals and visitors a chance to watch and meet athletes who will represent the United States on the world’s biggest athletic stage.
The logo for the Modern Pentahlon program was also released this week. It was created by two seniors from the Ringling College of Art and Design, Mariana Silva and Greg Mako.