YOG: Max takes after Olympian dad

YOG: Max takes after Olympian dad
Max Esposito, left, who finished 17th in the modern pentathlon at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, with his father Daniel, who is also his coach. Both Max's sisters are also elite athletes who have participated at the YOG and Olympics, while their father competed in the modern pentathlon at the 1984 Olympics.

Max Esposito can boldly say the Olympics runs in his blood, and no one can fault him for it.

After all, the Australian modern pentathlete, who is in Nanjing to compete in the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), boasts a rich Olympic pedigree.

His father, Daniel, was also a modern pentathlete and represented Australia at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Now 50, he was also selected for the 1988 Games in Seoul but could not compete that year after snapping his Achilles tendon.

Chloe, the eldest of three Esposito children, was the first to follow in dad's footsteps.

The 22-year-old's seventh-place finish at the London Games two years ago was the best finish by an Australian female modern pentathlete at the Olympics.

Emily, 20, was in Singapore for the inaugural YOG in 2010 as a shooter. She finished 15th in the women's 10m air pistol event.

Coming from a family of elite athletes is certainly something to be proud of but Max, 17, admits it also has its downsides.

"It's got its advantages and its disadvantages," he told The Straits Times.

"You've got to live up to the expectations of your Dad and sisters but they also give you tips and help you with what you're doing."

Modern pentathlon is one of the oldest sports at the Olympic Games. It consists of five disciplines - epee fencing, a 200m swim, combined run and shooting, and show jumping (not included at the youth level).

Said the elder Esposito who coaches his son: "I guess it's a father's dream come true to have all his kids involved in such a wide variety of sports, which will give a good grounding for their lives outside of sport.

"(But) it is definitely more hard work than pedigree. My kids have sacrificed a lot to be where they are. It takes a lot of time and dedication to be able to compete at such a high level."

The family - sans Emily - have even uprooted themselves to Italy to be closer to better training and competition opportunities.

But Max, who finished 17th out of 24 pentathletes in Nanjing, said he avoids letting sport - and, by extension, modern pentathlon - be the only thing that identifies him.

The Sydney native, who often trains with his eldest sister, said: "I think I was always going to go into (modern pentathlon).

"My dad and sister did it so I sort of just went along.

"(But) sport is sport and, after sport, I like to rest.

"It just gets boring if you live, breathe and sleep pentathlon."

Max admits disagreements between father and son are frequent during training and competition.

"It's good working with my dad but there are lots of tiffs.

"But, normally, I'm never right," quipped Max, whose dream is to compete at the Summer Olympics.

"He knows my weaknesses and my faults - both technical and mental - so he always pushes me.

"Modern pentathlon was in dad's genes so I guess he passed it on to me. (But) I wanted (this) myself."

maychen@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 26, 2014.
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