Introduction to Modern Pentathlon

January 1, 2010

National Federation

Pentathlon Ireland
Irish Sport HQ,
National Sports Campus,
Dublin 15

Tel: 01 625 1134
Contact: Sean McDonnell

Modern Pentathlon: Five Disciplines – one day:

Qualification tournaments take place during the course of the pre-Olympic year. Through competitions such as continental and world championships, 32 men and 32 women qualify. The finals resulting from these qualification contests take place during the Olympic Games.
Men and women athletes compete in all five sports within a single day. The addition of each individual score gained by the athlete in each one of these sports determines his or her final standing. The winner is the one with the highest overall score.
In the qualifying and semi-final rounds the order of the competition events may vary, except for cross-country running which is always held last.


1. Fence: One hit against all competitors
Pentathletes are required to fence once with every other competitor. The target area is the whole body. If neither competitor has scored a hit after one minute, they both record a defeat.
Scoring – The value of the hit varies with the number of competitors. 70% of bouts won corresponds to 1,000 pentathlon points. So for 36 athletes, 25 victories equals 1,000 points.

2. Swim: 200m Freestyle Time Trial
The swimming is a 200m freestyle race seeded in heats according to the athletes personal best times.
Scoring – The swimming times are translated into Pentathlon points. A time of 2m 30s equates to 1,000 Pentathlon points. 1/3 second above or below this time scores plus or minus 4 Pentathlon points.

3. Ride: 12 Show Jumps on an unknown horse
Pentathletes ride unfamiliar horses over a 350m-450m course that features 12 show jumps.
Scoring – Competitors start with  a maximum score of 1200 Pentathlon points and lose 40 points for each error; knock downs, refusals, falls or horse disobedience. The round is timed and each second over the optimum time detracts 4 points from the athletes score.

4. – 5. Combined event of Run and Shoot
Pentathletes begin this event in a handicapped start determined by the number of points that they have accrued after the fence, swim and ride with the leader setting off first. Athletes run to the range and have to hit five targets with laser pistols in a maximum of 50seconds. They then run an 800m loop back to the range. This is repeated three more times before crossing the finish line.
Scoring – 2,000 points are awarded to an athlete who completes the combined event in 13m 20secs. Athletes score plus or minus 4 points for each second faster or slower than this time.

Olympic History
The men’s Modern pentathlon was included in the Olympic competition schedule at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, while the women’s category was added for the first time at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Athletes who represented Ireland at the London Olympic Games 2012  were Natalya Coyle and Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe.


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