Modern pentathlon

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Logo modern pentathlon
Fencing, Athens 2004
Shoot, Rio 2016
Cross country running, Athens 2004
Show jumping, Rio 2016
German postage stamp from 1983 for the world championship in modern pentathlon

Modern pentathlon (or pentathlon ) is a multi-faceted sport that combines five different individual disciplines in the form of an all- around event .

The disciplines are

The sport was brought to life by Pierre de Coubertin , the initiator of the modern Olympic Games . The goal of this sport should be the ideal athlete . Until the Second World War , modern pentathlon was largely practiced by members of the military and police .

In contrast to the triathlon , the five disciplines are not carried out one after the other, but at least one hour apart. The achievements are converted into points and added up.

The special thing about the modern pentathlon are the very different demands on the athlete in the different individual disciplines. If strength and endurance are required in the organic disciplines of running and swimming, the technical disciplines of shooting and fencing require the ability to concentrate and mental calm as well as the ability to react quickly. The riding discipline, on the other hand, requires a pronounced sense of balance, empathy and sensitivity in dealing with the partner horse. The training effort for this sport is accordingly high.

The sport's umbrella organization is the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), which was founded in 1948. There are centers of excellence in Germany in Berlin , Potsdam , Heidenheim an der Brenz , Bonn , Marktoberdorf and Darmstadt .


Modern pentathlon as an Olympic summer competition

The modern pentathlon was specially designed as an Olympic competition and was first played during the 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm . It is only roughly based on the ancient Pentathlon , which was made up of the four athletics competitions discus , long jump , javelin , stadium run and a wrestling match . On the one hand, Pierre de Coubertin himself claimed to have invented the modern pentathlon, on the other hand, there is a tradition of military all-around combat in Sweden, to which the organizer of the 1912 Games, Victor Balck, referred when he himself claimed the authorship. Since the IOC has set up its own committee of IOC members for all sports that did not yet have their own international trade association, since 1914, international championships were only held within the framework of the Olympic Games for a long time.

At the Olympic Summer Games in Helsinki in 1952 , a team competition was also carried out for the first time. For these medals were last awarded at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona . World championships have been held annually since 1949 in non-Olympic years and since 1984. European championships have also been on the annual competition calendar since 1987. Since Atlanta 1996 , all five disciplines have been conducted in one day.

Due to the years of efforts of the President of the German Association for Modern Pentathlon , Wilhelm Henze , women also took part in the 1977 World Championships in San Antonio for the first time, but in a test competition outside of the official rating. In 1981 the first official world championships for women took place in London. Since Sydney 2000 women also start in the Olympic competition.

The continued existence of modern pentathlon as an Olympic sport has already been threatened twice . In 1994 the IOC's program commission planned to remove it from the Olympic program as of the 2000 Games, but the application was rejected by the IOC general assembly. In 2002 IOC President Jacques Rogge again proposed the abolition of the pentathlon competitions for 2008 , as the high cost of the competition venues is in unfavorable relation to the relatively low public interest in this sport. The IOC session on November 29, 2002 decided to remain in the program. In order to increase the attractiveness of the pentathlon, a change in the discipline was decided at the UIPM Congress in Kyoto 2006. Since 2009, the disciplines shooting and running have been combined into the so-called "Combined", which in some parts is similar to the summer biathlon . A year later, laser weapons replaced the previously used air pistols. In 2012 in London, these regulations were first used at the Olympic Games. As a result of these efforts, modern pentathlon is one of the 25 core sports that the IOC has included in the program of the 2016 Summer Olympics .

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, all individual disciplines took place in the Deodoro Sports Complex , and thus for the first time within walking distance of each other. In addition, the relatively time-consuming fencing placement round was held in the run-up to the finals. A fencing bonus round, in the form of a knockout system, took place on the actual day of the competition. With this new concept, the modern pentathlon should be made even more viewer-friendly and the duration of the competition further reduced.

Winter pentathlon

At the Olympic Winter Games in 1948 , a winter pentathlon was held as a demonstration sport as a winter equivalent of the modern pentathlon . The competition includes 10 km of cross-country skiing , pistol shooting with 4 × 5 shots at 25 m, downhill skiing , epee fencing and a cross-country ride in the snow . However, the IOC decided to establish the biathlon as a winter all- around competition as an Olympic competition. The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne functioned as the international biathlon umbrella organization until 1993, and it was only in 1998 that the International Biathlon Union formally separated from the umbrella organization of the modern pentathlon.

Disciplines of the modern pentathlon

  • Swimming : 200 m freestyle swimming . A time of 2:30 minutes gives 250 points. For every second above or below, three points mean more or less. Up to the 1997 World Championships in Sofia, the competition distance was 300 m freestyle.
  • Epee fencing : In the ranking round everyone fights against everyone else ("Round Robin System"); One hit is enough to win within a minute, otherwise a double loss. 70 percent of the achievable victories result in 250 points. The number of points for each victory, more or less, is specified in a table (with 36 participants, as is usual in the Olympic Games, this is ± 6 points per victory or defeat). Since 2015 an additional bonus round has been carried out according to the so-called ladder system. Here the last placed competes against the penultimate after the placement round. The winner receives a bonus point and then competes against the third from bottom. This ladder system is continued up to the leading athlete in the placement round. The victorious athlete always stays on the planche. If the best placed athlete wins his (only) fight, he receives two bonus points.
  • Show jumping : Riding through a 350 to 400 m long course with 12 to 15 obstacles. The horses will be provided by the organizer and drawn among the athletes. A faultless ride results in the maximum number of points of 300 points. Sevenpoints are deductedfor each dropand 10 points for each refusal or fall. If a participant does not finish the course, has to accept four refusals or two falls, he receives 0 points ("elimination").
  • Combined (3 km cross-country run / pistol shooting ): Since 2009, shooting has been held together with cross-country run as a combined discipline. The last of the five disciplines starts with a handicap start, the lead is calculated using the points (1 point = 1 second). Whoever crosses the finish line first is the winner of the modern pentathlon. Originally with the air pistol at biathlon-like folding targets or at an electronic target with a diameter of 59.5 mm at a distance of 10 meters. On the occasion of the World Cup in Rancho Mirage , USA, (February 2011), laser pistols were used for the first time in a major international competition. Four series have been shot since the 2013 competition season: shortly after the start, after 800 m, 1600 m and 2400 m of the cross-country run. A series ends as soon as the athlete has either scored five hits or, if he has not scored them, 50 seconds have passed (70 seconds up to the 2012 competition season); then the run can be continued. A time of 13:20 minutes gives 500 points. Every second above or below it gives a point more or less.
Until 2009, running (3 km cross-country run) and shooting were held separately from each other. In the early days, military pistols or revolvers were used to briefly shoot moving targets (duel mode; 4 × 5 shots, the last time at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul ) , and later with sports pistols or the Olympic rapid fire pistol in .22 caliber . Up until the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing , a 4.5 mm air pistol was used to shoot a static target 10 m away in a standing position (air pistol target ISSF 17 × 17 cm; mirror 59.5 mm). Each competitor fired 20 shots and had a time limit of 40 seconds per shot.

Number of participants and qualification mode

After the number of participants at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona had grown to 66 and this caused great organizational difficulties, especially in the individual disciplines of horse riding and fencing, some fundamental changes were made for the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 : the number of participants was increased 32, the entire competition was pressed into a daily program and the team competition was removed from the Olympic program. Since Beijing 2008 , 36 participants have been admitted to the Olympic Games.

In the case of world championships and other major international competitions, qualification takes place at the location where they are held. Each national association has the right to register three to four participants. The total number of participants should not exceed 108 for women and 108 for men. The qualification takes place in the form of a separate competition in two or three groups, but without riding. 36 participants each qualify for the final (with riding): if there are two qualification groups, the top 12 in each group plus the 12 best in points; in the case of three qualification groups, the top 8 of each group plus the 12 best points.

Team competition

A team evaluation was carried out up to and including the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona . This was not a separate competition, but only the scores of the three admitted participants from each participating nation within the individual competition were added. The teams with the highest points won gold, silver and bronze. Since Atlanta 1996 there is no longer this rating at the Olympic Games. It is still carried out at world championships and continental championships. However, this should take a back seat in the future in favor of the relay competition. At the 2012 World Championships in Rome, the team ranking was only recorded statistically. In the Masters category (competitors from 30 years of age and older), the team classification at World and European Championships is still carried out. The three best points of each national team out of four participants will be evaluated for the team result.

Relay competition

Relay competitions (also: relay) in the modern pentathlon had their premiere as a test competition at the 1987 European Championships in West Berlin and were officially held for the first time at the 1989 World Championships in Budapest. Because of the greater organizational effort, they are usually only carried out at world and continental championships, the Summer Youth Olympic Games and at major international competitions. The relay competition is held separately for women and men as a 2-person relay. Since the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and the subsequent World Championships for Seniors in 2010 in Moscow, a mixed relay with two participants of both sexes has been held. The aim of the UIPM is to include this mixed relay in the program for the 2020 Olympic Games. The relay competitions are usually held as separate 1-day competitions at the start of large competitions. In this context, promising young athletes are given a starting opportunity. 24 teams are allowed to compete in the relay competitions. The course of the competition is as follows:

  • Swimming: 2 × 100 m freestyle with a flying start. 250 points for a time of 2:30 minutes. Every second above or below three points more or less.
  • Fencing: The placement round is fought in teams of two, each team against each team. The sum of all battles won by a team is scored, whereby 70 percent of the possible victories result in 250 points. The bonus round takes place in the same way as this system and the individual regulations.
  • Riding: there is a transition area within the jumping course. The riders of a relay team start one after the other without any time delay. Jumping and timing errors of each team are added and subtracted from the maximum number of points of 300 points.
  • Combined: In the relay, 2 × 1600 m with two shooting bouts each are run. A total time of 13:20 minutes for the team results in 500 points. Every second above or below it gives a point more or less. Since the start is based on the handicap principle (the leader of the team with the highest points up to then starts first), the relay team whose final runner reaches the finish first wins.

Olympic champion

German champion

Well-known modern pentathletes

  • András Balczó , five-time world champion in singles and with the Hungarian team, 1972 Olympic champion
  • Stephanie Cook , British, first woman to win gold medal in modern pentathlon at the 2000 Olympic Games (Sydney)
  • Steffen Gebhardt , German Olympic fifth in 2008 and 2012, vice world champion team 2003, world champion with the 2007 relay
  • Lars Hall , Swedish Olympic champion in 1952 and 1956
  • Gotthard Handrick , German Olympic champion in 1936, was the first to break through the previously purely Swedish winning streak
  • Pavel Lednyov , Russian, four-time individual world champion and seven-time medalist at the Olympic Games
  • Andrei Moissejew , Olympic champion in 2004 and 2008, three-time world champion with the Russian team
  • Borys Onyshchenko , 1971 world champion, Olympic champion with the Soviet team in 1972, disqualified in 1976 for manipulating his sword
  • Lena Schöneborn , among others Olympic Champion 2008, European Champion 2011 & 2014, World Champion 2015
  • Eric Walther , multiple German champion, individual world champion 2003, vice world champion team 2003, relay world champion 2002 and 2007

Web links

Commons : Modern Pentathlon  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  • Andy Archibald: Modern Pentathlon - A Centenary History: 1912–2012 . Grosvenor House Publishing, Guildford 2012, ISBN 978-1-78148-756-3 .

Individual evidence

  1. Sandra Heck: From playing soldiers and fighting athletes. The genesis of the modern pentathlon. V & R Unipress, Göttingen 2013, ISBN 978-3-8471-0201-4 .
  2. ^ Arnd Krüger : Forgotton Decisions. The IOC on the Eve of World War I. In: Olympika. 6: 85-98 (1997). (online at: )
  3. ^ Uta Engels: Now the Problem: Modern Pentathlon for Ladies. To the role of Prof. Dr. Peter-Wilhelm Henzes on the development of the modern women's pentathlon. In: Arnd Krüger, B. Wedemeyer (Hrsg.): Learn sports history from biographies. Festschrift for the 90th birthday of Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Henze. Lower Saxony Institute for Sports History , Hoya 2000, ISBN 3-932423-07-0 , pp. 47–66.
  4. Olympic end for pentathlon, boxing, baseball? Accessed August 25, 2008.
  5. Accessed August 25, 2008.
  6. THE RESISTANCE TO THE PROGRAM REFORM REMAINS FUNDAMENTAL Collective protective reflexes Accessed August 25, 2008.
  7. Modern pentathlon: laser instead of air pistols
  8. Modern pentathlon now relies on laser pistols - August 23, 2010
  9. ^ Echo Online ( memento of March 23, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) of May 26, 2010.
  10. Accessed July 11, 2016.
  11. ^ Andy Archibald: Modern Pentathlon ... 2012, p. 340.
  12. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from March 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Accessed January 15, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Accessed January 15, 2013.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  14. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from March 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Accessed January 15, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  15. ^ Andy Archibald: Modern Pentathlon ... 2012, pp. 296, 302.
  16. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from March 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Accessed January 15, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /