SPORTS

Modern Pentathlon

It is an Olympic sport that integrates five different disciplines: it consists of fencing (epee), swimming (200 m freestyle), horseback riding (show jumping test) and laser-run (four circuits of five shots at an electronic target with a laser gun plus 800 m of running), for a total of 20 shots and 1,200 meters of running on foot.

Thanks to several innovations, modern pentathlon has become an even more demanding sport, that takes the athletes to their limits. Only those with an exceptional mental and physical endurance, along with a great mastery of the five disciplines, may take the gold home. Modern pentathlon is also a symbolic sport for the event, since the five Olympic rings from the Olympic logo, are inspired in the five events of the modern pentathlon.

In the picture, an athlete running.

History of this sport

According to a story from the 19th century, a French cavalry officer was sent to deliver a message. To complete his mission, he had to ride a horse, fight with swords, shoot, swim and run. These are the five disciplines that competitors must overcome in modern pentathlon, all of them in a single day.

The Baron De Coubertin was an admirer of the pentathlon that was disputed in the old Olympic Games, and proposed a similar competition that would embrace the spirit of its predecessor. De Coubertin believed that this sport, above all, would test “the moral qualities of a man, as well as his resources and physical skills, resulting in the most ideal and complete athlete”.

Modern pentathlon was disputed for the first time in Stockholm 1912, with a female category being included in Sydney 2000. Originally, the disciplines were divided into four or five days, but since Atlanta 1996, all five disciplines are performed in a single day.

The discipline has been disputed since Buenos Aires 1951 in the Pan American Games. The historical medal count is led by the U.S. delegation, a team that has won 13 gold medals in total.

In the picture, an athlete running.

How do you compete?

Athletes compete against each other using the sword. One-minute combat rounds are carried out, where the most successful athletes win the highest scores. Athletes add up points in the first three competitions, which decides their starting position in the final laser run competition, which include the running and shooting disciplines. The first athlete to cross the finish line wins the gold medal.

It is the first sport that the competition starts with. It is the only event where competitors face against each other directly. Combats last for a maximum of 1 minute, in a single touch, to beat the rival. If the one-minute time runs out and no competitor has touched the opponent, both are granted a defeat.

Swimming consists in a 200m freestyle race. Competitors are distributed in elimination heats, based on their own prior marks. In this event, pentathletes swim against the clock, not each other. This means that for the result it is not considered their final position in the series, but the time taken to swim the distance. A time between 2:30:00 and 2:30:49 will grant 250 points in modern pentathlon. Every 0,50 seconds over or under this time will add or subtract 1 point to the score, the equivalent to one second in Laser Run.

The individual equestrian jump event is performed in a 400-450m track with 12 jumps, including a combination of a double and a triple jump. In relays, the track includes 8 obstacles with no combination in a 2 x 260-300m. Through a random draw, horses are assigned to athletes. Competitors will have five practice jumps and 20 minutes for warm-up before the individual competition while in relays, each horse will have the chance to perform 5 jumps.

The athlete/team with the highest score before the Laser Run will be the first to start. The remaining athletes/teams will start by handicap, one second for each point in modern pentathlon. The Laser Run event is a race of approximately 25m; first shooting event (five targets that have to be shot within a 50-second limit); an 800m race; a second shooting event (five targets that have to be shot within a 50-second limit); an 800m race; a third shooting event (five targets that have to be shot within a 50-second limit); an 800m race; a fourth shooting event (five targets that have to be shot within a 50-second limit); and lastly, an 800m race. For the shooting events, a laser pistol and electronic targets will be used. Athletes/teams will qualify in relation to their finish position.

Quiz

What is the symbolic element that the five sports of modern pentathlon are inspired in?

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Information for the community

The University of Chile and the University of Santiago are recognized for having all the necessary infrastructure to practice modern pentathlon. From these houses of study, important national representatives in this discipline have emerged.

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