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Modern Pentathlon at the 2012 London Summer Olympics

The modern Pentathlon at the 2012 Summer Olympics will take place on August 11 and 12 in London. This event will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

The modern Pentathlon is an athletic competition that includes five events.

  • Cross-Country Run: The cross-country portion of the Olympic Pentathlon is three kilometers long. For the first time at the Olympic Games, the shooting and running events will be held together. Participants will compete in three rounds of shooting, with each round followed by a one kilometer run.

  • Pistol Shooting: In each of the three rounds of firing, athletes shoot five targets, loading the gun after each shot in a maximum of 70 seconds. After each round of firing, the athlete runs approximately one kilometer of the cross-country course.

  • Epee Fencing: The fencing competition is the only part of the modern Pentathlon where participants are directly competing against one another. Each participant will face every other competitor one time with matches lasting a maximum of one minute.

  • Freestyle Swimming: The swimming event is 200 meters long. Athletes are arranged in their starting position depending on their best swim time in previous Pentathlon competitions.

  • Show Jumping: The show jumping portion involves riding on a randomly paired horse over a 350–450 kilometer course with 12–15 obstacles.

The winner is the first to cross the finish line.

Three venues are slated for this event. The swimming takes place at the Aquatics Centre in Olympic Park, the fencing is at the Copper Box, and the riding, running and shooting are held at Greenwich Park.

There are 36 spots for the men’s competition and an equal number for the women’s. Any nation may contribute a maximum of two athletes for the men’s event, as well as two for the women’s. Participants must qualify by achieving high ranks at prominent competitions held the year before and the year of the Olympic Games.

The breakdown for qualifications is as follows:

  • The host nation is automatically awarded one place.

  • Two invitational positions are given by the International Modern Pentathlon Union, the governing body of the Olympic Pentathlon.

  • Continental Championships determine 19 participants:

    • one from Africa

    • four from the Pan-American

    • five from Asia

    • eight from Europe

    • one from Oceania

  • One place is given to the winner of the 2011 World Cup Final.

  • Three positions are given to the top three competitors at the World Championships held the year previous to the Olympic Games.

  • Three positions given to the top three competitors at the World Championships held the year of the Olympic Games.

  • The final seven positions are given to those athletes with the best world rankings who have not already qualified.

Unlike all other Olympic events, the Pentathlon is the only event specifically designed to be an Olympic game. The modern Pentathlon was introduced as a men’s event in 1912 and has been a part of the Games ever since. The women’s event was added to the Olympic line up in 2000.

The skills required for the different sections of the Pentathlon are intended to represent the skills needed for a “modern” cavalry soldier during the early 1900s.

For more information and complete rules, visit the website of the sport’s governing body, the International Modern Pentathlon Union.

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