| Event type

Individual, Men

Date21 – 25 July 1952
LocationAhveniston maauimala, Hämeenlinna / Ahveniston hallintorakennus, Hämeenlinna / Ahveniston harju, Hämeenlinna
Participants51 from 19 countries
FormatPoint-for-place scoring.

With World Championships now having been conducted since 1949, there was at least some way to handicap the Olympic modern pentathlon event. Of the nine medals available at the Worlds in 1949-51, four had been won by Sweden, four by Finland, and one by Italy. The favorite in 1952 was Sweden’s Lars Hall, who had won the 1950 and 1951 World Championships. He was expected to be challenged by Finland’s Lauri Vilkko who had placed second in 1949 and 1951. Hall got off to a quick start, winning the cross-country steeplechase by 21 seconds over Finland’s Olavi Mannonen, while Vilkko lingered back in 11th place. Hall had drawn a horse that was found to be lame, and he was then re-assigned the best horse in the competition.

Hall placed seventh with the épée in the second phase, but fell behind Hungary’s István Szondy, who was third in riding, and fourth in fencing. Hall struggled in rapid-fire shooting, placing 15th. Szondy was only 12th with the pistol but remained tied for the lead with his teammate, Gábor Benedek, with Hall in third place, four points behind the Hungarian duo. Hall’s troubles in shooting were nothing to those of Vilkko, who placed only 38th and took himself out of medal contention. Hall was fortunate that he could shoot at all as he arrived late to the pistol range, but a Soviet protest had delayed the competition and kept him from being disqualified.

Lars Hall was easily the best swimmer in the competition and he won the 300 metre freestyle by over six seconds. This gave him a lead he would not relinquish. Placing eighth in the run, he won the gold medal by seven points over Benedek, with Szondy taking the bronze medal. Benedek and Szondy would finish 1-2 at the 1953 World Championships. Hall was a carpenter and became the first civilian to win the pentathlon. One interesting competitor was Australian Forbes Carlile, who later became the coach to Australian swimming superstar Shane Gould.

1Lars HallSWE32Gold
2Gábor BenedekHUN39Silver
3István SzondyHUN41Bronze
4Igor NovikovURS55
5Ole MannonenFIN62
6Frederick DenmanUSA62
7Lauri VilkkoFIN63
8Thad McArthurUSA68
9Thorsten LindqvistSWE75
10Eduardo Leal MedeirosBRA80
11Claes EgnellSWE82
12Aladár KovácsiHUN93
13Olavi RokkaFIN95
14Guy TroyUSA95
15Leon LumsdaineGBR96
16Luis RieraARG100
17Nilo FloodyCHI106
18Werner VetterliSUI107
19André LacroixFRA110
20Werner SchmidSUI110
21Aloysio BorgesBRA113
22Hernán FuentesCHI120
23Pavel RakityanskyURS123
24Carlos VelázquezARG123
25Forbes CarlileAUS123
26Alberto OrtizURU126
27Luis CarmonaCHI128
28Aleksandr DekhayevURS129
29Eric MarquesBRA135
30John HewittGBR136
31Alfonso MarottaITA137
32Berthold SlupikGER148
33Duilio BrignettiITA151
34Jorge CáceresARG152
35Hardy MinderSUI158
36Dietloff KappGER158
37Jervis PercyGBR161
38José PérezMEX163
39Giulio PalmonellaITA164
40Bertrand de MontaudoüinFRA176
41Ricardo DurãoPOR179
42Christian PalantFRA181
43Lem MartínezURU187
44Antonio AlmadaMEX193
45Francis PlumerelBEL195
46José PereiraPOR197
47David RomeroMEX202
48António JonetPOR210
49Américo GonzálezURU212
50Harry SchmidtRSA226
DNFAdolf HarderGER