2024 Paris Olympics

Modern pentathlon at 2024 Olympics in Paris explained: Events, history, scoring

The event traces back to the origins of the Olympics

NBC Universal, Inc.

The modern pentathlon differs slightly from its ancient predecessor, but the event will still be a thrilling and demanding competition at the 2024 Olympics in Paris this summer.

The modern pentathlon got its start in 1912, when Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, proposed to bring back the pentathlon, a competition featured in the Olympics of ancient Greece, with some modern adjustments.

Here is everything you need to know about the pentathlon at the 2024 Olympics in Paris:

What is the history of the pentathlon at the Olympics?

The pentathlon was one of the most popular events of the Olympics in ancient Greece.

In ancient times, there were five events athletes would compete in, including discus, javelin, distance jumping, running and wrestling.

But when Coubertin brought the competition back in 1912, he decided to modernize it to test "a man's moral qualities as much as his physical resources and skills, producing thereby the ideal, complete athlete."

The narrative of the modern pentathlon is of a soldier delivering a message getting knocked off his horse and having to defend himself with a sword and pistol. The soldier then had to run away by swimming and running through the woods.

What events are in the modern pentathlon?

The modern pentathlon comprises four events combining five sports: racing, fencing, swimming, running and shooting.

For the racing component, athletes will ride an unfamiliar horse they were given to through a random draw 20 minutes before and will have to complete show jump course.

Fencing is split into two rounds. The first is a round to establish rankings for the competitors. Each athlete competes against each other in a bout that lasts one minute or until the first hit. The second round is single elimination, with each bout lasting 45 seconds.

Hosting an international event like the Olympics hasn’t exactly been a climate-friendly thing to do, but Paris 2024 wants to change that. The home of the UN’s landmark Paris Climate Agreement has reworked nearly every aspect of hosting the Olympics in order to become the first carbon-neutral games. National climate reporter Chase Cain takes us behind the scenes in Paris to see how they plan to achieve that ambitious goal. <br><br><i>Editor's note: A previous version of this story made an comparison between the average carbon emissions from recent Olympic Summer Games and the emissions of India and Germany. This comparison was incorrect and has been removed from the story.</i>

The swimming competition is a 200m freestyle event.

Finally, the running and shooting event is where athletes alternate between running and shooting at five targets from a distance of 10m.

How does scoring work for the pentathlon at the 2024 Olympics?

The modern pentathlon is scored with two separate rounds.

The first combines points scored in the racing, swimming and fencing events.

For fencing, athletes will earn points for winning bouts that take place within the second round of that event. Points for the racing and swimming events will be accumulated based on each athlete's performance in the event.

The points scored by each athlete in the first round, also called the semi-final round, are used to determine their placement at the start of the second round, which comprises of the running and shooting event.

Only 18 of the 36 athletes who compete in the semi-finals for both the men's and women's competitions will move on to the final round.

Athletes will have a handicap of one second for every point they scored in the first round. The first athlete starts with zero on the clock, and then the athlete with the second-most points from the first round starts at zero plus the number of seconds difference and so on.

The first athlete to cross the finish line at the final round wins the gold medal.

What countries are good at the modern pentathlon?

The moden pentathlon is not Team USA's strongest event, as the red, white and blue has never won gold in the event. However, a few have squeaked out bronze and silver.

The event is typically won by European countries, including Germany, Lithuania, Sweden, Hungary and Russia.

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