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Modern pentathlon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Competitors in the final round of the Men's Modern Pentathlon pull for the finish line at the Goudi Sports Complex on August 26, 2004.
Competitors in the final round of the Men's Modern Pentathlon pull for the finish line at the Goudi Sports Complex on August 26, 2004.

The modern pentathlon is a sports contest consisting of 5 events, hence the name pentathlon. The events are épée fencing, pistol shooting, 200 m freestyle swimming, a show jumping course on horseback, and a cross-country run. The epithet modern is important to discern it from the ancient athletics pentathlon – none of the events of modern penthatlon were part of the ancient Olympics.

The modern pentathlon was invented by the Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. As the events of the ancient pentathlon were modeled after the skills of the ideal soldier of that time, Coubertin created the contest to simulate the experience of a 19th century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines: he must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with pistol and sword, swim, and run.

The event was first contested at the 1912 Olympic Games, and was won by a Swede named Gösta Lilliehöök. Future American World War II General George S. Patton finished fifth.

The modern pentathlon has been on the Olympic program continuously since 1912. A team event was added to the Olympic Games in 1952 and discontinued in 1992. An event for women was added in 2000. In non-Olympic years, a World Championship is held, instigated in 1949. Originally the competition took place over four or five days; however in 1996 a one-day format was adopted in an effort to improve the event's commercial image. In spite of the event's strong pedigree in the modern olympics, and its status as the only event created specifically for the modern olympic games, its lack of widespread popularity outside of Eastern Europe has led to calls for its removal from the Olympic games in recent years.

However, a vote by the IOC on July 8, 2005 keeps it in the Olympic Program at least till 2012.

The sport is governed by the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), the International Modern Pentathlon Union.

Disciplines of the Modern Pentathlon


See also: 10 m Air Pistol

The shooting discipline involves using a 4.5 mm air pistol in the standing position from 10 metres distance at a stationary target. Each competitor has 20 shots, with a maximum of 40 seconds between each shot.


See also: fencing (sport)

The fencing discipline uses the épée. The competition is a round-robin, with each competitor facing all of the others. Each bout lasts for one minute, with the first to score a hit winning. If neither fencer scores within one minute, the bout is scored as a double loss.


See also: Swimming

The swimming discipline is a 200 m freestyle race. Competitors are seeded in heats according to their fastest time over the distance.


See also: Riding

The riding discipline involves show jumping over a 350-450 metre course with between 12 and 15 obstacles. Competitors are paired with horses in a draw 20 minutes before the start of the event.


See also: Running

The running discipline involves a 3,000 m cross-country race. Competitors are ranked according to their score from the first four disciplines and given different start times, with the leader going first. The first person to cross the finish line is the overall winner of the pentathlon.

World Champions

Individual Men

Individual women

See also

  • List of Olympic medalists in modern pentathlon

External links

  • UIPM Official Website
  • A guide to Modern Pentathlon
  • Modern Pentathlon Australia
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