PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - The U.S. Pentathlon is set to return to Palm Springs, but its in jeopardy. If the international event doesn't find support soon, the desert could lose it. The International Olympic Committee hand picked five cities in the world to host the event, including Palm Springs. "It's a true honor to have it here in Palm Springs, there's a great demographic," said Michelle Strauss, the CEO of the USA Pentathlon World Cup. "I think it can definitely be supported here it just has to get off the ground."
Athletes compete in five different disciplines: equestrian, swimming, shooting, fencing, and running. It all began when the Coachella Valley hosted an olympic qualifier. "It was an incredible experience, we want do it next year, we loved the athletes, the world class level, the different countries that are all here at one time," said Audrey Brooks, the volunteer coordinator for the USA Pentathlon World Cup. "And the variety of sports that are all here at one time."
The committee struggled to find support then and it's fighting the same battle now. A lack of local sponsors could keep the sport on the sideline this year.
"We didn't realize how much, the extent of all the difficulties until recently," said Strauss. "So now we are in a position where we could lose the event if we can't cover at least the basic cost to run the sporting event itself."
It won't only hurt the future of the sport in the United States, Palm Springs could lose out too. "What an internationally, world renowned city and to bring an international sports event people of not just one sport but five disciplines, able to do that as a sport, it's just unbelievable to me," said Graham Sutherland, the venue coordinator for USA Pentathlon World Cup.
In contrast to the 2011 event, the pentathlon will not only be held in one central location, it will also donate a portion of the ticket sales to two local charities, FIND food bank and the American Cancer Society. "There's nothing better than to have a sporting event, which is always popular and be able to help the community, and be able to help some of these charities that are really significant locally," said Strauss.
The event can't help others without helping itself first. The Pentathlon committee still needs $75,000 before the opening ceremony February 19.
For more information on how you can help, go to http://www.usapworldcup.org or call Strauss at 206-890-5081.