| Event type

Individual, Men

Date20 – 24 July 1980
LocationKonnosportivny kompleks profsoyuzov, Bittsevsky park, Moskva / Futbolny polya, Legkoatletichesky futbolny kompleks, Moskva / Strelbishche Dynamo, Mytishchi / Plavatelny basseyn, Sportivny kompleks Olimpiysky, Moskva
Participants43 from 17 countries
FormatScoring by point tables.

The United States had won team medals in modern pentathlon in 1956, 1960, and 1964. But by the mid-1970s they were no longer as strong a team. However, in 1979, the World Championship was won by Bob Niemann (USA) and the US won the team title by a very narrow seven-point margin. Because of the American-led boycott, he would not be able to compete, which left the individual event open. The defending champion, Poland’s Janusz Pyciak-Peciak was back and had been silver medalist at the Worlds in 1978-79. Also back was the 1976 Olympic silver medalist, Pavel Lednev, who had won his fourth World title in 1978. Lednev had wanted to retire after 1976, but was asked by Soviet authorities to continue. He was coming off an injury and had not competed in 1979.

The competition eventually came down to Lednev and his young teammate, Anatoly Starostin, and Hungary’s Tamás Szombathelyi. Szombathelyi led after the fencing and shooting, but Starostin moved into the lead after the 300 metre freestyle swim. Lednev was third after the shooting but a poor swim dropped him to seventh. Starostin held onto his lead with a solid cross-country run and won the gold medal. Szombathelyi placed second, while Lednev’s good run brought him a bronze medal. The run was held on a very hot day with temperatures of 31° C. (88 ° F.)

This was the fourth consecutive Olympics at which Lednev had medaled in the individual event – bronze in 1968, 1972, and 1980 and a silver in 1976. Added to this were three team medals, including two golds, giving him seven medals in all, the most ever by an Olympic pentathlete. Lednev followed in the footsteps of his former teammate, Igor Novikov. Together they had won eight World Championships in the individual event, but neither was ever able to garner an Olympic individual gold. Starostin’s gold medal was the first win ever for the Soviets in the individual competition. Starostin was still a junior and would win the Junior World Championship in 1981. In 1986 he was caught with a doping positive for a β-blocker, but would return to compete for the Unified Team in 1992.

1Anatoly StarostinURS5,568Gold
2Tamás SzombathelyiHUN5,502Silver
3Pavel LednyovURS5,382Bronze
4Svante RasmusonSWE5,373
5Tibor MaracskóHUN5,279
6Janusz Pyciak-PeciakPOL5,268
7Lennart PetterssonSWE5,243
8Milan KadlecTCH5,229
9George HorvathSWE5,229
10Heikki HulkkonenFIN5,227
11Jan OlesińskiPOL5,219
12Paul FourFRA5,196
13Ivar SisniegaMEX5,186
14Yevgeny LipeyevURS5,176
15Danny NightingaleGBR5,168
16Jan BártůTCH5,158
17Pierpaolo CristoforiITA5,156
18Marek BajanPOL5,147
19László HorváthHUN5,131
20Joël BouzouFRA5,107
21Peter WhitesideGBR5,085
22Dumitru SpîrleaROU5,058
23Alain CortesFRA5,042
24Jussi PelliFIN5,032
25Federico GaleraESP5,001
26Bohumil StarnovskýTCH4,952
27Gyula GaloviciROU4,935
28Simeon MonevBUL4,915
29José SerranoESP4,887
30Nikolay NikolovBUL4,832
31Pekka SantanenFIN4,828
32Manuel MontesinosESP4,811
33Nigel ClarkGBR4,809
34Borislav BatikovBUL4,798
35Alexander TopayAUT4,784
36Jens LohmannMEX4,747
37Robert BarrieAUS4,696
38Helmut WieserAUT4,582
39Jerome HartiganIRL4,557
40Brian NewthNZL4,486
41Cezar RăducanuROU4,397
42Sackville CurrieIRL4,377
43Mark HartiganIRL4,361