World's Best Athlete? Never Heard of Her

Move over, Bo Jackson: Sheila Taormina has conquered 3 sports
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2008 1:03 PM CDT
Sheila Taormina clears an obstacle during the horse riding event of the women's Modern Pentathlon competition of the Pan American Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Monday, July 23 2007.    (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
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(Newser) – The greatest athlete in the world today is 5'3'', 115 pounds, and named Sheila Taormina. You've probably never heard of her, but you should give this "force of nature" your attention now, writes ESPN the Magazine. Poised to become the first woman ever to compete at the Olympics in three different sports, Taormina is a model of versatility.

After snagging an Olympic gold in the 1996 swimming relay, a sixth-place triathlon finish in 2000, and a world triathlon championship in 2004, Taormina moved on to her newest challenge: the pentathlon. Despite having never fenced, shot, or ridden a horse, she quickly shot to the top of the field, winning the Pan Am Championships and qualifying for Beijing.