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Modern Pentathlon 101: Competition format

Modern Pentathlon
USA TODAY Sports

Modern Pentathlon 101: Competition format

Learn more about the competition format of Olympic modern pentathlon.

Fencing

The fencing ranking round will take place on the first day of competition, utilizing nine fencing pistes. Each athlete will fence against all other athlete (35 bouts) with an electric epee. The target will be the whole body. A bout will end with one hit within the time limit of one minute. If a hit is not scored within one minute, both competitors will register a defeat. 70 percent victories (winning 25 bouts) will earn an athlete 250 points. Each additional victory will add six points, and each additional defeat will deduct six points.

Then the fencing bonus round will take place on the second day of competition, utilizing a single fencing piste. The time limit will be reduced to 45 seconds. Pentathletes will be ordered according to their position from the ranking round. The competition will be carried out in reverse order, beginning with the last-place athlete going against the next-placed athlete. The winner will receive one bonus point and advance to compete against the next best-ranked athlete. Athletes will not lose points if they are defeated. In the case of a double defeat (no hit is scored within 45 seconds), the winner of the bout will be the athlete ranked higher on the start list. 

Swimming

The swimming event is the first event on the second day of competition. Athletes will be seeded into heats according to their Pentathlon World Ranking swimming time. They will be allowed to use any stroke or style to complete the 200m freestyle race. 

A time of two minutes, 30 seconds will earn an athlete 250 points. Every one third of a second above or below two minutes, 30 seconds will be equal to plus or minus one point. 

Riding

Athletes will be assigned an unfamiliar horse. They will have 20 minutes and a maximum of five practice jumps to warm-up the animal. The start order will be the reverse of the ranking after the previous events.

The course will feature 12 show-jumping obstacles (15 total jumps with one double combination and one triple combination) set no more than 1.2 meters (4 feet) high.

Completing the round in the time allowed will earn an athlete 300 points. Penalty points will be deducted. 

Combined Event (Running and Shooting)

The combined event will begin with a handicapped start, based on the results after the previous events. The leader will start first, followed by the next-placed pentathlete, who will start one second later for every one point trailed (example: a four-point advantage would allow the leader a head start of four seconds).  

Athletes will run a total distance of 3200m. There will be four shooting stops where athlete will aim a laser pistol at five electronic targets. Athletes will be allowed to resume running after hitting the five targets with an unlimited number of shots, or after 50 seconds, whichever happens first. 

The first pentathlete to cross the finish line in the combined event will be declared the winner of the competition. An athlete will earn 500 points for a time of 13 minutes, 20 seconds. Every one second above or below 13 minutes, 20 seconds will be equal to plus or minus one point.

Modern Pentathlon 101

Learn more about modern pentathlon:

Basics | Competition format | Equipment | Glossary | Olympic history | Qualification | Venues

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