2011 World Cup, Modern Pentathlon Opens In Rancho Mirage

180 Athletes From 30 Countries Participate In Event

POSTED: 10:36 AM PDT Sep 27, 2011    UPDATED: 08:26 AM PST Feb 23, 2011 

Opening ceremonies for the U.S. stage of the 2011 World Cup for the Modern Pentathlon will take place today at the Aqua Caliente Casino Resort Spa.

The event will bring more than 180 athletes from about 30 countries to compete across five disciplines this week in a handful of Coachella Valley cities.

Designed to mimic the pentathlon of the ancient Greek Olympic Games, which tested the skills of an ideal solider, the modern pentathlon tests traits that a 19th century soldier would need to possess, according to event organizers.

Included in the event are epee fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping and a combined running/shooting event.

Tonight's ceremony begins at 5 p.m. in The Show theater at the casino and will bring out many of the Coachella Valley's leaders as well as some involved with the U.S. Olympic Team.

Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet will speak during the ceremony and representatives from the officers of several other elected officials are scheduled to appear. President of U.S. Olympians Association Track & Field Willie Banks and World Olympians Association President Dick Fosbury, who won gold in the high jump in the 1968 Olympics, will also be on hand.

Competition begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.

The locations of events include:

- Swimming -- Palm Springs Swim Center, 405 S. Pavilion Way.

- Epee Fencing -- Xavier College Preparatory High School gym, 34200 Cook St., Palm Desert.

- Equestrian Show Jumping -- Equestrian Center International, 35050 Via Josefina, Rancho Mirage.

- Run/Shoot - Equestrian Centers International.

The week is the first in four qualifying events for the World Cup Finals, which takes place in London in July.