Modern Pentathlon

Modern Pentathlon


The modern pentathlon is a competition that combines five different events into one large competition. The first three events are fencing, freestyle swimming, and equestrian show jumping. Competitors are given points for how well they fare in each event. The points then decide start times for the final race, which is a combination of cross country running and pistol shooting. The first to cross the finish line in the running and shooting event is the winner of the pentathlon.


The event first began during Ancient Greece at the original Olympic Games, but evolved into the modern pentathlon in the early 20th century when it adapted a new set of five events. By 1912 it made its way into the Olympics, where it still is today.



Fencing is the first event of the competition and is played slightly differently than normal fencing rules. The first person to score a point on the other (touching your opponent with the blade) wins. The matches last one minute, and if there is no winner after that time, both players lose. Each athlete plays every other member in the competition, in what is known as a round robin.

Freestyle Swimming

Next is the freestyle swimming event where athletes compete in a 200-meter race. There are too many competitors to swim at the same time so they swim in heats based on their qualifying times.

Equestrian Show Jumping

Equestrian show jumping is the third leg of the competition, athletes are randomly given a horse 20 minutes before the event begins that they must complete a course on. The course is roughly 400 meters long and contains up to 15 obstacles that they must maneuver.

Cross Country and Pistol Shooting

Finally, the last leg of the competition involves both shooting and running. There are four 800-meter laps that must be run in order to finish the race. Before each lap, each contestant has to shoot five targets with their pistol. Whoever completes this event first is the overall winner.

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