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|Taormina is looking to become the first woman to qualify for the Olympics in three different sports.|
|Taormina clears an obstacle during the horse riding event of the women's modern pentathlon at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro last July. Taormina finished 11th.|
|James E. Conyers was released from a Michigan prison in January. He served time for stalking Taormina.|
Sheila Taormina thought she clinched a place on the team last weekend by finishing the World Cup competition as the highest ranking American. But an interpretation of the United States selection procedures could prevent Taormina from becoming the first female athlete to qualify for the Olympics in three different sports.
"This was pretty clear stuff to the athletes," Taormina's coach, Lew Kidder, said. "Go bust your ass in these trials and may the best two women win. That's why I get frustrated, and I'm not nearly as frustrated as Sheila is."
According to Kidder, a clarifying statement issued by the United States Olympic Committee in late April actually muddied the issue. It said if an athlete received an Olympic qualification place by the International Pentathlon Union on June 1, U.S. Pentathlon would nominate that athlete. Problem is, the UIPM is supposed to release two lists -- the second two weeks later -- and only Michelle "Mickey" Kelly is expected to be on the first one. Kidder says Kelly, Taormina and Margaux Isaksen are all expected to receive invitations from the UIPM. But only two athletes can go to Beijing, and Kelly would go by virtue of medaling in last year's Pan Am Games.
Taormina finished ninth among U.S. athletes in World Cup rankings; Isaksen 10; and Kelly was 29th. Their last competition is the world championships in Hungary at the end of the month. If Isaksen finishes strong, she could move ahead of Taormina in the Olympic rankings and possibly be named on the June 1 list.
Kidder said the confusing process has been stressful for Taormina, 39, who defied odds to learn three events in three years. "Sheila is not doing well," he said. "She's a very emotional person. She has tremendous highs and lows, and she's at the bottom of the scale right now."
USOC spokesperson Darryl Seibel did not immediately return a call placed by ESPN.com.-- Elizabeth Merrill