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The next day she fences, runs and swims again, but she also rides for an hour and 45 minutes. It's a 25-mile drive from her apartment to the stables, in Boerne, Texas, and Norwood hitches a ride in the team van. The team starts hauling riding equipment out of the van and the trunks of cars: hard hats, riding crops, boots, chaps.
Norwood's mount is a rather sorry-looking quarter horse-thoroughbred gelding of indeterminate age named Yakatak. She treats him as if he were Secretariat, however, talking to him and stroking his neck. Riding is the final event in the pentathlon, which is contested over three or four days, but it's the wild card. If you draw a bad horse, you can easily blow the whole thing with a bad ride. The host country of a meet is responsible for providing the horses, so the local athletes usually know the idiosyncrasies of many of the animals.
Norwood learned to ride in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, when her father. Lieutenant Colonel Marvin Norwood, was stationed there. The Brazilian army has a mounted cavalry, and each officer keeps about five horses. "They couldn't possibly ride all their horses every day, so I was given lessons by one of the Brazilian officers," says Norwood. In addition, when she was in her early teens her father taught her how to handle a gun.
In 1977 the family moved to North Carolina, and Norwood took up running at Westover High School. "It was instant gratification," she says. "As soon as I started competing, I started winning races." That's where she first heard about the pentathlon. A family friend, having observed her abilities at riding, shooting and running, said to the 15-year-old Norwood, "Have I got a sport for you!"
Four years later she was training full time in San Antonio. Three years later she won a bronze medal at the Goodwill Games in Moscow. A month after that, she went to the world championships in Italy. The following November she was informed of the positive drug test. Although Norwood vowed never to compete again in the pentathlon after being banned. Peciak talked her into returning, and she went back into training in December 1988. Eight months later, she was the world champion.
Norwood's immediate goal is to win the gold at the Goodwill Games in Seattle this July. Her long-term goal is Olympic gold and that will be a tough one. The women's pentathlon isn't an Olympic event, although there's talk of it for the 1996 Games. Pentathletes peak at about age 30, and Norwood will be 32 in '96. Then again, there is no guarantee that the women's competition will make the Olympics. But Norwood has an answer to that. "I can't see postponing my life for another five years and then not being able to compete," she says. "So I'm going to try out for the 1992 men's Olympic team."
Her chances of making the U.S. men's team are slim to none, according to Peciak. "Lori doesn't have a chance of competing against the men in pentathlon," he says. "They're too strong. It's like Mike Tyson boxing with a woman."
Bob Nieman disagrees. The men's team is weak, he says, and fencing could be a key event for Norwood: "If Lori can walk into the Olympic trials and know the weakness of every man there, she's got a shot."
If anyone can pull it off, Norwood can. "I have maybe one chance in about a hundred million," she says in her practical, clear-eyed way. But then the dreamer emerges. "I want to represent my country," she says. "I want to walk into the Olympic stadium and have people say, 'These are our best athletes.' "