In ancient times pentathlon involved running, jumping, spear-throwing, discus and wrestling.
Modern pentathlon was introduced to the Summer Olympic programme in Stockholm in 1912 and comprises (one-touch épée), freestyle swimming (200 m), equestrian show jumping (15 jumps), and a final combined event of pistol shooting and cross country running (3200 m). This final event is now referred to as the laser-run, since it alternates four legs of laser pistol shooting followed by an 800 m run (for 3200 m in total).
Despite being continuously on the Olympic programme since 1912, an event for women was only added at the 2000 Games in Sydney. The competitions currently include men and women’s individual and team event together with relay events for men and women and a mixed relay event.
Since the 1996 Games in Atlanta, the format has involved athletes competing in the five events on the same day (prior to this the format was one event per day over five days). Athletes score points in the first three events which decide their starting position for the final combined event which comprises shooting and running. The athletes compete on borrowed horses and shooting is done with laser pistols. These were introduced at the 2012 Games in London and replaced traditional pellet-firing air guns.
Three Irish athletes competed in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and two athletes competed in both the 2012 and 2016 Games in London and Rio respectively.
National Federation: Pentathlon Ireland
International Federation: Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne