The original pentathlon, which includes running, long jump, javelin, discus and wrestling, was considered the climax of the Olympic Games. Its winner, acclaimed by the public, was called “Victor Ludorum” or “The Winner of the Games”.
The creator of the Olympic Games of the Modern Era, Baron de Coubertin managed to reintroduce pentathlon, which took place at the Stockholm 1912 Games.
In the Swedish capital, modern pentathlon brought together the following events: pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horse riding and running, and it remains in the Games programme until today. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) administered the sport until 1948, when its international federation called Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM in French) was founded.
Women first participated in the sport in the Sydney 2000 Games. Another significant change to attract spectators was a reduction in competition time: until 1980, it took place over five days, with one event per day, whereas now, all events – fencing, swimming, horse riding and a combined running and shooting event – occur on a single day.
The competition uses a table points system, in which competitors’ performance determines their starting position in the combined running and shooting event. Whoever ends up in first place in this combined event is the winner.
The first event is fencing. All participants face each other with swords in bouts lasting up to one minute, and a single touch is all that is necessary to win. If the bout is not decided after one minute, both competitors are considered losers. The number of points varies in line with the percentage of victories – those who win 70% of bouts receive 250 points.
In swimming, competitors cross a distance of 200 meters in freestyle, and are placed in accordance with their best time in the modern pentathlon world rankings. Everyone who completes the race within 2 minutes and 30 seconds wins 250 points.
The horse riding event takes place over a stretch of between 350 and 400 metres, with 12 obstacles of 1.20 metres in height – one of which is a double, and another a triple. Before the event, the athletes participate in a draw to select which horse they will ride. Competitors begin the event with 300 points and receive penalties in line with their performance.
In the combined running and shooting event, the competitor with the best ranking at the end of the first three events starts in first place, and the intervals are based on differences in scores (handicap start). The event consists of four turns at the shooting stand, with the aim of hitting the target five times, and an 800-metre race (adding up to 3,200 metres). Athletes completing the event within 13 minutes and 20 seconds win 500 points. The winner of the competition is the athlete who is the first to cross the finishing line.