Modern Pentathlon

Facts

Discipline of Modern Pentathlon
Participants 864
NOCs 57
Competitions held 40 (Venues)
Distinct events 6
IF Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne

Description

Modern pentathlon is a sport invented by the founder of the Olympic Games, the Baron Pierre de Coubertin. It is better termed the “military pentathlon”, as it supposedly mimics the skills needed by a 19th century soldier. He must first ride a horse and then fight off an enemy with a sword. He must then swim a river to escape, then fight off more enemies with a pistol, and finally, effect the final escape by running a cross-country course.

Coubertin was able to get the sport on the Olympic Program in 1912. The order of the events has varied, but the current order is as in the soldier’s trial – riding, fencing, swimming, and combined cross-country running and shooting. The riding is a cross-country steeplechase course. Fencing is a series of one-touch bouts done with épée swords. Shooting is done with an laser pistol from 10 metres (since 2012), but was formerly performed with an air pistol and originally with rapid-fire pistol. The swim is now a 200 metre freestyle (formerly 300 metres) and the run is a 3,000 metre cross-country event (formerly 4,000 metres).

The final event is now arranged such that the runners leave the start in the order of their positions after four events. Further, the starts are arranged such that the time intervals correspond to the number of points separating the competitors. Thus, the finishing order in the run now corresponds exactly to the finishing order of the entire pentathlon, adding to the drama of the event. Beginning at the 1995 World Championships and the 1996 Olympics, the modern pentathlon was changed so that all the events are now contested in one day. Scoring was originally on a points-for-place system with the lowest score winning, but the competition is now scored using tables for each of the five events.

Modern pentathlon was originally dominated by the Swedes. After World War II, the Hungarians and the Soviets became the top countries. Pavel Lednyov of the Soviet Union leads the medal list with 7, while Hungarian András Balczó is the only modern pentathlete with 3 gold medals.

Modern pentathlon is governed by the Union internationale de pentathlon moderne (UIPM), which was founded on 13 August 1948 and has 124 member nations as of 2020. Prior to 1948 modern pentathlon was administered directly by the IOC. From 1953 on, biathlon and modern pentathlon were governed together and the organization changed its name to the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne et Biathlon (UIPMB) in 1968. In 1993 the federation split into two separate groups to allow biathlon to act autonomously, but they stayed together as UIPMB until 1998. Since 20 August 1998 both sports are governed separately with modern pentathlon returning to UIPM and the International Biathlon Union (IBU) governing biathlon.

Probably the most obscure sport on the Olympic Program, it has frequently been suggested to remove it from the program. Since 1992 it has seen the team event discontinued, the number of participants lowered, and the number of competition days reduced. In 2008 the sport announced that it would combine the cross-country running and shooting phases into one competition, similar to a dryland biathlon, and in 2010, it was announced that the air pistol would be replaced by laser pistols. A modern pentathlon event for women débuted on the Olympic Program at Sydney in 2000, although a British girl (Helen Preece) had attempted to compete in the inaugural 1912 event.

All-time medal table

Olympic Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Hungary HUN 9 8 5 22
Sweden SWE 9 7 5 21
Soviet Union URS 5 5 5 15
Russian Federation RUS 4 1 0 5
Poland POL 3 0 1 4
Great Britain GBR 2 2 3 7
Italy ITA 2 2 3 7
Germany GER 2 0 1 3
Lithuania LTU 1 2 1 4
Czech Republic CZE 1 0 1 2
Australia AUS 1 0 0 1
Kazakhstan KAZ 1 0 0 1
United States USA 0 6 3 9
Finland FIN 0 1 4 5
France FRA 0 1 2 3
Czechoslovakia TCH 0 1 1 2
Unified Team EUN 0 1 1 2
Latvia LAT 0 1 0 1
People's Republic of China CHN 0 1 0 1
Ukraine UKR 0 1 0 1
Belarus BLR 0 0 2 2
Brazil BRA 0 0 1 1
Mexico MEX 0 0 1 1

Youth Olympic Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Mixed team MIX 3 3 3 9
Egypt EGY 2 0 0 2
Russian Federation RUS 1 2 0 3
Cuba CUB 1 0 0 1
People's Republic of China CHN 1 0 0 1
Republic of Korea KOR 1 0 0 1
Hungary HUN 0 2 1 3
France FRA 0 1 1 2
Great Britain GBR 0 1 0 1
Germany GER 0 0 1 1
Lithuania LTU 0 0 1 1
Mexico MEX 0 0 1 1
Ukraine UKR 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
András Balczó HUN 3 2 0 5
Pavel Lednyov RUS
URS
2 2 3 7
Igor Novikov ARM
URS
2 2 0 4
Daniele Masala ITA 2 1 0 3
Lars Hall SWE 2 1 0 3
Anatoly Starostin RUS
URS
EUN
2 1 0 3
János Martinek HUN 2 0 1 3
Ferenc Török HUN 2 0 1 3
Ferenc Németh HUN 2 0 0 2
Arkadiusz Skrzypaszek POL 2 0 0 2
Andrey Moiseyev RUS 2 0 0 2

Youth Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Ahmed Elgendy EGY 2 0 0 2
Kim Dae-Beom KOR 1 1 0 2
Ilya Shugarov RUS 1 1 0 2
Salma Abdelmaksoud EGY 1 1 0 2
Anastasiya Spas UKR 1 0 1 2
Leydi Moya CUB 1 0 0 1
Zhong Xiuting CHN 1 0 0 1
Maria Teixeira POR 1 0 0 1
Aleksandr Lifanov RUS 1 0 0 1
Anton Kuznetsov UKR 1 0 0 1
Gu Yewen CHN 1 0 0 1

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
Individual Men 24
Individual Women 5
Individual Boys 3
Individual Girls 3
Relay Mixed Youth 3
Team Men 11