First Olympic Appearance: 1912 (men); 2000 (women)
by Mike Morrison and Mark Zurlo
The modern pentathlon comprises five individual sports—shooting, fencing, swimming, horse show jumping, and running. Sounds like a pretty weird combination, huh?
As the story goes, a young French officer in Napoleon's army was sent on an unfamiliar horse to deliver a message into hostile territory. He was first greeted by an enemy soldier with his sword drawn. The two dueled. The French officer won the duel and continued on his horse until it was shot out from under him. He fired a shot with his pistol and killed the enemy but his horse didn't make it. He swam across a river and ran the rest of the way to deliver his message. When he arrived, his commanding officer greeted him with, "What took you?"
The modern pentathlon used to be drawn out over anywhere from four to six days. Beginning with the Atlanta games in 1996, it had been condensed into one furious day of competition in the following order:
London 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the modern pentathlon at the Games. The men's and women's contests will take place Aug. 11th and 12th, respectively. Competition starts with fencing in the Copper Box followed by a 200m swim in the Aquatics Centre. The athletes then leave the Olympic Park and head to Greenwich Park for a show jumping course. The fifth and final event of the day is the combined event, in which competitors complete a 3km run with shooting intervals in which they must hit five targets. The top three racers across the finish line will be the medalists.
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