Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Pentathletes that changed their nationalities

There are several athletes that represented more than one country in their carrers. Many reasons can lead an athlete to change his/her nationality and I'm afraid I won't list all of them here, but let's go. The most common situation are athletes that have dual citizenship - because were born in a certain country and raised in another or because the parents are foreigners and then their children are entitled to have the same citizenship. Then we have the changes in countries' boundaries that automatically can change the athlete's nationality (like formers countries USSR, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia). And last but not least, athletes that decide to move to another country for any reason (political, sponsorship and training facilities, etc). Some people, especially those with strong nationalistic feelings, say it's wrong and that athletes behave as mercenaries, when actually every case is unique and afterall it's a decision up to and a right of the athlete to choose. If it can sound disappointing that an athlete had support in his original country to later compete for another, we should remember that the development of the sport needs the exchange between countries and it's quite common countries with many top athletes having some of them moving to another country where they can have more chance of making a national team or get sponsors. Let's have a look at some cases of pentathletes that changed their nationalities, even though I don't know the reasons behind most of these changes so I can't tell much about them, just point them.

Winner of 2010 Men's World Cup #4 (Budapest, Hungary) and bronze medal in 2010 WC#3 (Medway, Great Britain), Aleksandr Lesun, used to represent Belarus and now is in competition carrying the Russian flag.

The United States adopted at least two high profile foreign pentathletes. Olympic champion and sport legend Janusz Peciak competed for his mother country Poland but has been living in the USA for more than 25 years where he is the head coach of the US Pentathlon team. Vakhtang Iagorashvili came from Soviet Union (more specifically from the republic of Georgia) and actually represented USA in international competitions as athlete and won several competitions.

Alexander Parygin is another pentathlete from former Soviet Union who later competed for one of the Soviet republics (Kazakhstan, winning gold in 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games) and later moved to Australia. He couldn't compete in Australian Olympic Games (Sydney 2000) but represented Australia in 2004 Athina Games and missed 2008 Beijing Games because of an appeal from the British Federation (the event that earned him a spot in the Games didn't have riding because of health concerns).

The current Pan-American champion, Andrei Gheorghe who represents Guatemala, was born in Romania and is son of a former pentathlete. Samantha Harvey, born in USA, competed for USA and later for Brazil (she's married to a Brazilian).

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