15 June 2021

London 2012: Bluffer’s guide to modern pentathlon

June 28, 2012
London 2012: Bluffer’s guide to modern pentathlon

At the London 2012 Games modern pentathlon will celebrate 100 years as part of the Olympic Games.

The sport involves five disciplines; fencing, swimming, riding, and the combined event of shooting and running.

The variety and skills needed are very diverse meaning that the pentathletes need to be good all-rounders, with exceptionally high yet equal measures of strength, endurance and concentration in order to do well.


Copper Box – fencing
Aquatics Centre – swimming
Greenwich Park – riding, combined event

Date: August 11 – 12

Jargon buster

Epée: The épée is used in the fencing element of modern pentathlon competitions and is a thrusting sword.

Freestyle: The swimming element is a freestyle race, which in effect means that all athletes favour the front crawl, as it is the fastest stroke.

Handicap start: In the combined event, the event leader starts first and the other athletes begin afterwards in competition order, with the start times dependent on the results of the previous three events.

10m air pistol: The gun used during the shooting part of the competition

Round-robin: The fencing competition uses this format style, where all athletes play each other once with matches decided randomly.

Basic rules

The first element to the sport is fencing, in which athletes are required to fence against every other athlete in sudden death bouts using the épée.

This discipline is then followed by 200m of freestyle swimming and then it’s on to the riding where the athletes have to jump over a 12-jump course.

Athletes are then given a score for each of the first three  element of the competition and the total scores are converted into a time handicap.

The handicap determines the starting times for the combined event where the pentathletes run 1,000m, shoot five targets, run another 1,000m and shoot another five targets before running a final 1,000m to the finish line.

The winner is the individual who crosses the line first.

One to watch

GB’s Samantha Murray is a bright young athlete of the modern pentathlon, she is only 21 and won her first world cup medal this year claiming bronze in Rostov, Russia.

Olympic rivalry?

Among the women, the big threats come from Lena Schoneborn of Germany. She won gold at Beijing and is the current world number one.

Who’s the gold medal favourite?

Although Lena Schoneborn is bound to be the favourite, GB’s Mhairi Spence and Samantha Murray shouldn’t be overlooked following their fine form in this year’s World Championships.

Since the women’s event was inaugurated in 2000, Great Britain have taken at least one medal at each Olympics so it’s going to be a highly anticipated and exciting sport to watch this summer.

Who to follow on twitter…



Modern Pentathlon Olympic fact

Women competed in Modern Pentathlon at the Olympic Games for the first time at Sydney 2000, where Team GB’s Stephanie Cook and Kate Allenby won gold and bronze.

The Women’s Sports Magazine

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