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Articles: Modern pentathlon

Modern Pentathlon

Modern pentathlon is a multi-discipline sport in which contestants compete in swimming, fencing, show jumping and a combined event of cross country running and shooting.

The pentathlon sport can trace its origins back to the 18th Olympiad in 708 BC. It was considered to be the premier events of the Greek Games. The original Greek pentathlon comprised running, jumping, wrestling, throwing the javelin, and the discus.

The modern version was the brainchild of non-other than Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics, who introduced it to the 1912 Games in Stockholm. The sport is mainly popular in Europe, especially in Russia and the former eastern bloc countries; in fact, for the latter half of the 20th century, the sport was dominated by the Soviet Union. There is currently over 90 countries that participate in the modern pentathlon.

The modern pentathlon sport

The sport is played by both men and women at junior and senior levels. Since the pentathlon is a combination of other sports, it uses the standardized equipment from those sports. Fencing occurs on a standard regulation fencing piste, show jumping is conducted on the Olympic show jumping arena, and swimming is performed in the Olympic swimming pool. The combined event is the only native event to the modern pentathlon and is performed over an 800-meter circular cross country running course, with a shooting range placed at the start-finish line. Even during these events, athletes will use traditional cross country running attire, and a target shooting rifle.

Beginning of a modern pentathlon competition

In all the pentathlon events, the athletes are given a start time at random since they are not competing against each other directly, but rather are competing for points. In accordance with this, each start procedure fits within the normal procedures for the individual sports.

Rules of modern pentathlon

The rules of the modern pentathlon are the same as the rules of its constituent sports, the only exception is the fencing phase, as this is the only time that the competitors compete directly against one another. In fencing, it is a one touch bout only, with the player scoring the first scoring touch being declared the winner. The format of the fencing is unlike a normal fencing tournament since there is no elimination phase. It is a round robin where every player competes against every other player, and the win percentage is then converted into points. The benchmark is a winning ratio of 70%, which equals 1000 points. Points are then added or subtracted pro rata depending on the ratio achieved.

In the swimming event, competitors complete a 200-meter swim under normal swim race conditions with a time benchmark of 2:30 minutes equalling 1000 points. The competitor then earns +/- 4 points for every 0.33 second over or below the time.

The Equestrian portion of the sport is again scored against the clock and penalties. The competition consists of a 350-450-meter course with 15 hurdles. Unlike normal Equestrian disciplines, riders ride an organiser’s horse which is allocated to them in a random ballot. The benchmark time is 1 minute to 1.17 minutes depending on the length of the course. The base points awarded is 1200 and then points are deducted for being over the time and for refusals at hurdles. Riders are dressed as in normal show jumping, and horse hoods and blinkers are prohibited.

The combined event is unique to the Pentathlon; at the start, the athlete has to run 25 meters, arrive at his shooting station and then shoot 5 targets in 50 seconds with an unlimited number of shots. He then runs eight hundred meters on a cross country track. The athlete repeats this shooting and running cycle 3 more times, totalling 20 shots and 3200 meters covered. The time benchmark is 12:30 minutes with an award of 2000 points, each second slower or faster is awarded with +/- 4 points.

Modern pentathlon competitions are judged by multiple judges who not only judge the individual events but ensure the correct points are calculated.

Game flow and tactics

For most of the events of the modern Pentathlon, there is very little tactics and flow, since the competitors are competing against the clock for points. It is only during the fencing section that some tactics come into play, with players being either defensive or offensive depending on the relative skill of their opponents.

Modern pentathlon competitions

Modern pentathlon is governed by the International Modern Pentathlon Union, which was founded in 1948. The pinnacle competition is the Olympic games, followed by the World Championship held annually and the annual World Cup Series, for a total of between 4 to 6 events held globally. Unlike the other events, there is some prize money available.

There are no international professional modern pentathlon athletes. Those that make a living from it do so by the patronage of their national federation and corporate sponsors depending on the popularity of the sport in their country.

Betting on modern pentathlon

Betting on the modern pentathlon is very limited and is generally only available for the premier gold ribbon events held annually. Bets are generally a straight up bet on the winner of the event or placings.