One of the real joys of Olympic Day is that it brings sports which are perhaps less mainstream into the public’s consciousness. This is why Edvinas Krungolcas, an Olympic modern pentathlete from Lithuania, was so keen to get involved in an Olympic Day event this year.
Modern pentathlon is one of the oldest Olympic events, having featured on the sporting programme since 1912 and it consists of swimming, fencing, shooting, show-jumping and running. Lithuania has a proud and successful record in the sport, having won four Olympic medals since 2004, with Krungolcas himself winning silver in Beijing in 2008.
For Olympic Day 2017, Krungolcas is taking part in a fencing event in his home country with the aim of introducing more children to a discipline that they may never have come across before. He believes it is vital that children try as many sports as possible if they are to find one that they are both good at and enjoy.
“I would like for children to try as many sports as they can,” says the silver medallist. “They must all search for a sport that fits them and this is why Olympic Day plays a very important role in Lithuania because you can find a lot of different sports in one place. You can try every sport, you can get information and contacts about each sport and you can meet sport stars, Olympic champions, medallists, coaches and sport veterans during this event.”
When Krungolcas first got involved in sport himself, he never imagined that he would end up on the Olympic podium for modern pentathlon. “When I was a small kid, I tried a few sports including football and basketball,” he explains. “But in the end, I chose swimming. I thought it was an easy and simple sport and I did it just for fun. But when I won my first medal, I changed my mind - I desired more and more. And then after 10 years as a swimmer, I changed my sport to modern pentathlon.”
The Olympian has now retired from competition but there are many lessons that he learnt from his time in elite sport that he carries with him to this day. They are, he believes, skills that are useful in every walk of life, not solely in the sporting arena.
“I feel that I have got so much from sport: discipline, stability, determination, focus, stress control,” says Krungolcas. “Also, I have met a lot of good people, I have visited a lot of countries and this is why I loved - and still love - my sport. And sport helped me to find self-confidence; it made me feel that that I had done a great job and so when I won a medal, I felt I deserved it. I felt that rivals should tremble before me, not I before them.”
The Lithuanian embraces the responsibility of being a role model and is keen to impart his knowledge, advice and experience to the young athletes he is working with on Olympic Day.
“If you want to achieve something in your life, first of all you must have a good attitude towards hard work,” he explains. “Children need to have good examples and then they will start to do good things. They need to see and hear successful stories to then believe in themselves. It is such a great and important job for us athletes to pass on our experience and knowledge to the youngest people in our community- the children.”