Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The modern pentathlon is a sports contest consisting of 5 events, hence the name pentathlon. The events are épée fencing, pistol shooting, 200 m freestyle swimming, a show jumping course on horseback, and a cross-country run. The epithet modern is important to discern it from the ancient athletics pentathlon -- none of the events of modern penthatlon were part of the ancient Olympics.
The modern pentathlon was invented by the Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. As the events of the ancient pentathlon were modeled after the skills of the ideal soldier of that time, Coubertin created the contest to simulate the experience of a 19th century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines: he must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with pistol and sword, swim, and run.
The modern pentathlon has been on the Olympic program continuously since 1912. A team event was added to the Olympic Games in 1952 and discontinued in 1992. An event for women was added in 2000. In non-Olympic years, a World Championship is held, instigated in 1949. Originally the competition took place over four or five days; however in 1996 a one-day format was adopted in an effort to improve the event's commercial image. In spite of the event's strong pedigree in the modern olympics, and its status as the only event created specifically for the modern olympic games, its lack of widespread popularity outside of Eastern Europe has led to calls for its removal from the Olympic games in recent years.
The sport is governed by the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), the International Modern Pentathlon Union.
Disciplines of the Modern Pentathlon
- Shooting: The shooting discipline involves using a 4.5 mm air pistol in the standing position from 10 metres distance at a stationary target. Each competitor has 20 shots, with a maximum of 40 seconds between each shot.
- Fencing: The fencing discipline uses the epee. The competition is a round-robin, with each competitor facing all of the others. Each bout lasts for one minute, with the first to score a hit winning.
- Swimming: The swimming discipline is a 200 m freestyle race. Competitors are seeded in heats according to their fastest time over the distance.
- Riding: The riding discipline involves show jumping over a 350-450 metre course with between 12 and 15 obstacles. Competitors are paired with horses in a draw 20 minutes before the start of the event.
- Running: The running discipline involves a 3,000 m cross-country race. Competitors are ranked according to their score from the first four disciplines and given different start times, with the leader going first. The first person to cross the finish line is the overall winner of the pentathlon.
This event was discontinued after 1992.
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