She Googled her next step.
The 22-year-old Lynchburg College graduate was watching the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and maneuvered around the search engine to garner more knowledge about some of the more obscure sports. She came upon modern pentathlon and thought her equestrian background would be a good start.
She wanted to become an Olympian.
“I knew I could ride,” said Flathers who is pursuing that dream as a member of Team USA here this week to compete in the World Cup of Modern Pentathlon. “I grew up riding, but it takes some exorbitant resources to continue that. And, people who are competing are in their 40s. It's taken them that long to get there (to world-class level) and I didn't want to wait.”
Flathers utilized her dorm-room computer, the school library and talked to the right people. Actually it was one person in particular, an administrator at her college, who was an aunt of 2008 Olympic pentathlete Eli Bremer.
“She put me in contact with him to get more information,” said Flathers. “Now, a lot of things have just come together for me. Some of these sports I've never even given a thought to try. It never crossed my mind, but I've been able to pick up quickly.”
Flathers became so adept at some of the more intricate parts of the five discipline sports that she worked her way up the ladder quickly. She mastered the equestrian portion, worked diligently on her fencing and shooting, and needed time and miles to improve on swimming and running endurance.
Working with equestrian expert Michael Cintas also helped her confidence level.
“I met Michael at my first appearance in nationals in 2009,” she said. “I got to ride with him before the competition and it was a huge confidence booster because I knew I belonged there. It was a really positive experience and it keeps getting better.”
While it's been a quick transition from an young equestrian in mostly the hunting aspect and being home-schooled, living on a farm in Virginia then competing in college, Flathers says she belongs here and has the right attitude.
“My dad said if there was anyone that could do this, I can,” she said. “I'm not afraid to get to work and put in the time and I'm not afraid to fail. I'm better because of things I've tried. I've learned from those experiences.
Cintas said Flathers is a good jumper and a quick learner.
“I've been working with Caitlin now for two years and she's a very nice ride,” said Cintas. “What she needs now is to work on her run and swim.”
And that's exactly what the optimistic Flathers realized when she started, although she has aspirations for more.
“I've always desired to dream big,” she said. “I wasn't good with just status quo. The more I got into it and the more I progressed, it's become much less about what I can accomplish and what I do. Now, it's bringing honor to my country. It's much bigger.”
- Desert Sun