Modern Pentathlon is a combined sport consisting of five different disciplines- fencing, freestyle swimming (200 m), show jumping (equestrian) and laser-run which is a combination of laser shooting and running (earlier pistol shooting and 3.2km cross-country running). All of these events now took place in one single day, but earlier the sport followed a four-five day format. Modern Pentathlon is a part of summer Olympics since 1912.
The sport was believed to be originated by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games according to whom the sport is a measure of a “complete man”. The governing body of the sport- UIPM was founded in 1948.
To get maximum points in the first three events (fencing, swimming and show jumping) which help the athlete to get a time advantage for the last combined event of laser-run as the athlete with maximum points goes first followed by others according to their points. The first person to cross the finish line of the running course wins the overall competition.
The invention of the modern pentathlon is debated. From one perspective, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder and then organiser of the modern Olympic Games, asserted authorship. On the other hand, Viktor Balck, the President of the Organizing Committee for the 1912 Games, demonstrated that he utilised the long convention of Swedish military multi-sports games, to make a present-day pentathlon.
The name gets from the Greek péntathlon, i.e. "challenge of five events". The prefix 'modern' in its name distinguishes it from the ancient pentathlon of the old Olympic Games, which comprised of the stadion foot race, wrestling, long jump, discus throw, and javelin.
The sport was first contested at the 1912 Olympic Games and was won by Swedish competitor Gösta Lilliehöök. The modern pentathlon has been on the Olympic program persistently since 1912. A group event was added to the Olympic Games in 1952 and terminated in 1992. Women were included in the World Championships in 1977, and the official world championships in 1981. An event for women was included in 2000 while mixed relay events were added in the year 2010.
The épée fencing is done in modern pentathlon which follows a round-robin format in which each athlete faces all other athletes once for a one minute match with each. The first one to score a hit wins instantly but if both the athletes are unable to score a point within one-minute, both will lose the match.
The 200-m freestyle swimming is the part of modern pentathlon in which the athlete competes against time and not against other competitors. A time of 2 minutes 30 seconds provides 1000 points with every 0.33 second faster or slower worth plus or minus 4 points.
The show jumping event takes place over a 350-450 m long course having around 12 obstacles which are up to 1.2m high. This event has a special characteristic that the rider is paired with a horse in a random draw just before 20 minutes of the start of the event. The athlete completing the course in the specified time (1-1.17 minutes) is awarded 1200 points with each mistake results in losing some points.
Laser-run is the combination of two sports- laser shooting and running. The athlete has to run four 800m laps with each lap preceded by laser shooting at five targets. Thus the athlete has to run a total of 3200m distance with a total of 20 shooting targets. A time of 12:30 minutes provide 2000 points with each second faster or slower worth plus or minus 4 points. The first athlete to cross the finish line after the last lap wins.
Male and female athletes compete as individuals or as teams in modern pentathlon events. Along with these, relay events are also a part of the competition including men relay events, women relay events and mixed relay events.
The playing area of modern pentathlon consists of an indoor fencing arena which usually measures 14m long and 1.5-2m wide, the swimming event takes place in standard Olympic pool over a distance of 200m, the show jumping event takes place over a 350-450m long course having around 12 obstacles which are up to 1.2m high and the last combined event of laser-run takes place over an overall course of 3.2 km including 20 shooting targets.
For techniques, please refer individual sections of the sports- fencing, swimming, show jumping, shooting and running (athletics).
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