Courtesy of Suzanne Stettinius
Parkton native and McDaniel College alumna Suzanne Stettinius will compete in arguably one of the most challenging sports at this summer’s Olympic games, the pentathlon: a combination of shooting, fencing, swimming, horseback riding, and cross country running. Suzanne took a moment out of her busy schedule to talk with us about the games.
What drew you to pentathlon?
I grew up riding, playing soccer and lacrosse, and on summer swim teams as a kid. I was always active … I competed in my first tetrathlon [pentathlon without fencing] when I was eight years old, so I have grown up doing the sport.
Throughout your career, you’ve dealt with serious injury, including a broken neck in college—how do you get yourself motivated to play after events like that?
My other major injury was a broken collar bone [in] March 2011. Both times I cried in the hospital, not because of the pain, but because I thought I was finished … I was so [mad] at myself for getting hurt that I was extra determined to pull through.
What’s the Olympic qualifying process like?
There isn’t just one Olympic trial like most other sports. With pentathlon, they take your top three competitions from June 2011 until June 2012, and … only the top 36 women and top 36 men in the world get to compete.
McDaniel’s Swim Coach Jeff Hiestand helped you through your training, even after you graduated—what did his help mean to you?
It was so amazing to know that he really wanted to help me get there! The year after I graduated, Jeff set it up with the athletic board to allow me to train with the team … It is so much easier to stay motivated when you are with a team.
What are your expectations for your performance at the games?
I don’t think a podium position is [a] far fetch … If I can go out there and clear my mind before every event, take it one step at a time, I have a good chance!
What’s next for you after the Olympics? Do you think you’ll be back in four years?
I have actually not thought too much about what my next step is … As for 2016… we will see.
Chris Milazzo is an editorial intern at Maryland Life.