The modern pentathlon comprises five individual sports—shooting, fencing, swimming, horse show jumping, and running. Sounds like a pretty weird combination, huh?
Did You Know?
American George Patton (yes, that George Patton) was a strong challenger for the modern pentathlon gold in 1912 but faltered in the shooting competition.
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:
The modern pentathlon at the 2008 games will feature 36 men and 36 women competing on August 21 and 22, respectively. The running and equestrian events will be held at the Olympic Sports Center Stadium, the swimming competition at the Ying Tung Natatorium, and the fencing and shooting events at the Olympic Green Convention Center.