How Does Scoring Work In Modern Pentathlon?

How Does Scoring Work In Modern Pentathlon

Every four years at the Summer Olympics, events attract worldwide attention that would not necessarily at any other time. One of those events is the modern pentathlon. Inspired by its ancient predecessor, the traditional pentathlon, the modern-day version was first held at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. The remainder of this piece will discuss the modern pentathlon in greater detail.

The Events of the Modern Pentathlon

Unsurprisingly from the name, the modern pentathlon consists of five events. The five sports involved are fencing, equestrian, pistol shooting, swimming, and cross country running. The fencing event is a round-robin style, where every participant faces each other in a one-minute bout. Athletes then compete in a second round, being seeded based on how they did in the first round. In this round, athletes are eliminated if they lose.

Next, in swimming, the competitors each swim a 200-meter freestyle race. In equestrian, the pentathletes each attempt a show-jumping course that contains 12 obstacles to maneuver. Interestingly, the competitors do not get to bring their own horse; rather, they are given an unfamiliar horse and have 20 minutes to prepare with it.

Lastly, the shooting and running events are combined into one to finish off the pentathlon. Everyone runs a 3,200-meter race, and they must stop on four different occasions to shoot at a target with a laser pistol. Athletes cannot move on until they hit the designated target five times. Now that there is an understanding of what the events in the modern pentathlon are, the next section will talk about how the participants score points.

Scoring of the Modern Pentathlon

In the modern pentathlon, athletes score points based on how they do in each event. Thus, while you do not have to be the best at every event, in order to win, you have to be well-rounded.

In the fencing event, athletes are scored based on what percentage of events they win throughout the event. For example, 250 points is given to anyone who wins 70% of their events, while a higher percentage receives more points, and vice versa.

In swimming, the scoring is fairly straightforward. A time of 2 minutes and 30 seconds is worth 250 points, while a faster time is worth more and vice versa. In the equestrian show jumping, anyone who perfectly completes the course without any mistakes receives 300 points. Any mistakes, such as missing an obstacle, will result in various deductions.

Lastly, in the combined shooting/running race, scoring is slightly different. Athletes start the race in a staggered fashion based on how they fared in the first four events, with the winner starting first. Each point behind the leader costs the pentathlete one second at the start. For example, if someone is 100 points behind the leader, then they will start this final event 100 seconds after the leader does.

From there, the overall winner is the person who crosses the finish line first. Therefore, it is key to put yourself in a good position going into the final event, as you do not want to be too far behind going into the race. Now that there is a better understanding of the modern pentathlon overall, some of the past winners are discussed below.

Past Winners of the Modern Pentathlon at the Olympics

The modern pentathlon has been held at the Olympics since 1912. The men’s event has taken place in all of the Olympics since then, while the women’s event has been held since the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia.

In the six Olympics since, the women’s event has been won by six different women from five different countries. They are, in chronological order, Stephanie Cook of Great Britain, Zsuzsanna Vörös of Hungary, Lena Schöneborn from Germany, Laura Asadauskaite of Lithuania, Chole Esposito of Australia, and Kate French from Great Britain. In all, Great Britain leads the way with six total medals won, claiming one in every Olympics since 2000 besides the 2016 games in Rio De Janeiro.

As for the men’s event, one man has claimed three gold medals in the 100+ year history of the event. That man is András Balczó of Hungary. Balczó won the men’s individual gold in 1972, and he also was a part of two gold-medal-winning teams in the team event in 1960 and 1968. The men’s team event lasted from the 1952 games to the 1992 games. As for individual golds, Lars Hall of Sweden (1952, 1956) and Andrey Moiseyev (2004, 2008) are the only two men to win two individual golds in the modern pentathlon.


How do you score points in modern pentathlon?

In the modern pentathlon, you score points based on how you do in each event of the five events (swimming, fencing, running, shooting, and equestrian). Each event has its own points system, with how they fare in the swimming, fencing, and equestrian events determining how they start the final combined running/shooting event. Once they reach the final event, it is simply who wins the race who wins the overall pentathlon, with the competitors being staggered based on how they did in the other three events.