After watching swimming in the 1996 Olympic Summer Games, Dennis Bowsher knew he wanted to be a member of Team USA.
"It was then that I got the Olympic dream," Bowsher said. "It would be so cool to represent the United States."
A little over a decade later, that dream would become a reality, but for a different sport -- modern pentathlon.
The sport traces its roots to the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, and was introduced in 1912. Athletes competing are faced with five different obstacles. They must fence, swim 200-meters, ride a show jumping horse, and run 3 kilometers while stopping to shoot a pistol along the way -- all skills used in military combat.
"A soldier had to know how to ride a horse, use their gun," Bowsher said. "If they ran out of bullets, they had to be able to use their sword. If there was no horse, they had to be able to cross land or water."
As a soldier in the U.S. Army, it was the perfect fit. The Games of the XXX Olympiad have even more significance.
"In 1912, General George Patton competed in the Olympics in modern pentathlon, so 100 years later, I'm a soldier in the Army competing in the modern Olympics just like General George Patton did," Bowsher said.
When Dennis first told his parents, John and Nancy, he wanted to compete in the modern pentathlon, they were a little confused. Neither knew what the sport was or what it entailed, but supporting their son, they went along with it. His dream, became their dream, a dream they thought would come true in 2008.
Dennis was one of three competitors that qualified for the Beijing Olympics, but only two men could compete. After a tiebreaker, he was left off the team.
"It was disappointing that he wasn't able to go to China," his dad John said, "But I think it just made that drive harder for the London trip and he succeeded."
Now, he will represent Team U.S.A. as the sole male competitor for modern pentathlon.
"You watch the Olympics on TV, and it's always other people," his mom Nancy said. "I don't think it's really set in yet you know."
It's an emotional journey the Bowshers hope will end in victory. If it doesn't, John and Nancy are proud of what their son has already accomplished.
"His whole career has been a thrill," John said. "So whether he medals, we hope he does, he's gonna try his best to do that. But if he doesn't, we're still proud of him."
If he does, it's a completely different story.
"The guards better watch out. I'm gonna go down and see him," he said.
Dennis' shot at gold starts on August 11.