Modern pentathlon at the Tokyo Games belonged to Great Britain.

In the women’s event, Kate French reigned supreme, securing Great Britain’s first modern pentathlon Olympic medal since the London Games. In the men’s event, Joe Choong won gold, setting an Olympic record in the process. 

As the Paris Olympics approach, here’s what has happened in the sport since Tokyo.

Rule changes

The five disciplines of modern pentathlon — fencing, swimming, showjumping, shooting and running — have historically been completed over the course of many hours or even days.

But in Paris, as the sport aims to boost its popularity, the semifinal and final will both be condensed into 90-minute competitions with a new order of events.

The semifinals and finals, which will be hosted at the legendary Palace of Versailles, will feature the following run of show:

  • 35 minutes of equestrian (showjumping)
  • 5-minute break
  • 20 minutes of fencing (épee) - bonus round
  • 10-minute break
  • 15 minutes of swimming (200m freestyle)
  • 15-minute break
  • 20-minute combined event (laser run: a discipline that involves cross country running and laser pistol shooting in many sequences)

Modern pentathlon, which debuted at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, is looking to make the sport more fluid, so that fans can understand it, according to Klaus Schormann, Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) president.

"Our new Modern Pentathlon format is strongly aligned with these two principles: it will dramatically improve the experience for fans and viewers, while maintaining the essence of the sport," Schormann wrote on the UIPM’s website.

The shorter, more dynamic format isn’t the only change coming to modern pentathlon: after the Paris Olympics, an obstacle course discipline will replace horse riding.

In November 2022, the UIPM approved the change as it vies to retain its regular spot on the Olympic program. The discipline shakeup will be the most significant change to the sport since its Olympic debut 112 years ago.

Many standout modern pentathletes have openly criticized the swap, including Choong, who said he will quit the sport if it happens.

So while the modern pentathlon at the Paris Games will mostly resemble those of previous years, an earthquake in the sport is on the horizon.

Choong’s dominance continues

After winning gold in Tokyo, Choong has remained at the top of the sport. He won back-to-back world titles in 2022 and 2023 and is the man to beat in Paris. A trio of Egyptians — Mohanad Shaban plus two brothers, Ahmed and Mohamed El-Gendy— will contend for medals, as well. Ahmed won silver in Tokyo behind Choong.

Emiliano Hernandez of Mexico took silver at the 2023 World Championships and will aim for a second modern pentathlon medal for his country. His older brother, Ismael Hernandez, secured bronze in Rio.

Women’s field is wide open

2020 Olympic champion French took an 18-month break from international competition but will still compete to defend her crown. French says she took a step back from the sport to focus on her future but, upon reflection, plans to give it a go in Paris.

During her break, Italy’s Elena Micheli took the mantle as world’s best, winning back-to-back world championships in 2022 and 2023. Fellow Italian Alice Sotero placed second at 2023 worlds, meaning an Italian-dominated modern pentathlon is likely in Paris. Micheli is vying for redemption: She finished just 33rd at the Tokyo Olympics after her horse bucked her off twice.

Laura Asadauskaite, 40, has also retained relevance since Tokyo. She is the only female modern pentathlete to have won multiple Olympic medals, winning gold in 2012 and earning silver in 2020. She placed fourth at worlds in 2023, right behind Great Britain’s Kerenza Bryson, who will aim to keep her nation on top of the sport.