What is a modern pentathlon?
The modern pentathlon is an Olympic sport which consists of five disciplines in one day.
Competitors earn points for their performances in each of the five events of shooting, fencing, swimming, riding and cross-country running, much as athletes do in a decathlon and heptathlon competition.
The total points scored in the first four events determine the starting order for the final event, the cross-country running, so that the order the competitors finish the race determines the actual finishing positions overall.
The competition originally took place over a five-day period, with a single event on each day. However, since 1996, all five events have taken place on a single day. A women’s modern pentathlon event was introduced at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Getting started in modern pentathlon training
Getting started in modern pentathlon is a daunting prospect, simply due to the fact that it involves five very different disciplines. You’d think that you have to be some sort of Superman to be brilliant at all five! However, very few competitors are superb in all the disciplines, and they will therefore have stronger and weaker events that they need to continuously work on.
Pentathletes often come from a background of single sports or a combination of a number of sports. Many people get started by taking part in biathlon, which involves just the two events of swimming and running, and then work their way up steadily towards all five disciplines which make up the modern pentathlon.
Most people are able to swim and run, while the other disciplines require the use of specialised equipment. It need not be expensive to start with, as many clubs will offer training sessions at which it should be possible to borrow equipment, often with a small charge.
For fencing, the costs of the equipment varies but new fencing equipment can be expensive. Second hand equipment would again be the best option.
Owning a horse would be an expensive affair, and while some pentathletes do own their own, it is not a necessity as horses are usually supplied by the competition organisers. To ride in modern pentathlon competitions you will be required to produce a riding competency certificate.
Picture Credit: James A Boardman / Shutterstock.com