Congrats to Oz’s Chloe Esposito, winner of the Women’s Pentathlon at the Rio Olympics.
Some facts on the pentathlon:
- The word comes from the Greek “pent”, meaning “five”, and “athlon”, meaning “competition.
- As the name denotes, the penthalon is a competition of five events. In the Ancient Olympic Games these 5 events were the long jump, javelin throwing, and discus throwing, followed by the stadion (a short foot race) and wrestling. All the events were contested in one day.
- Pentathletes were considered to be among the most skilled athletes, and their training was often part of military service—each of the five events in the pentathlon was thought to be useful in war or battle.
- The modern pentathlon, invented by Pierre de Coubertin. the father of the Modern Olympics, is a variation on the military aspect of the ancient pentathlon. It focused on the skills required by a late-19th-century soldier, with competitions in shooting, swimming, fencing, equestrianism, and cross country running, the idea being that the soldier is seeking to return from behind enemy lines and has to ride, swim, run, shoot and fence to do so.
- Scoring in the modern pentathlons is by a point system, whereby each competitor is awarded a certain number of points based on their performance in each specific event. The overall winner is the competitor with the highest point total at the end of the five pentathlon events. Moere on this below.
- Those who watched Chloe Esposito come from 45 seconds behind at the end of the final event, running interspersed with shooting, may find some clarification in the comments below.
- In 2009 the running and shooting events were combined into a single event, similar to the biathlon. Some commentators have suggested that the sport should be renamed as a "tetrathlon", meaning four events, given the number of competitions. This has been refused on the basis that five distinct skills are still applied in the course of the competition.
- The combined running and shooting event is the last event of the pentathlon program and consists of a continuous shoot-run race. Competitors commence their runs in a staggered start according to their cumulative point standing from the three previous event, making the race a chase event for overall placing.
- As from 2012, the format of the combined event is a 4x800 run loop, with a 10m air pistol component at the beginning of each loop. Competitors have to hit the target 5 times before continuing on to the next run loop. In 2011 laser shooting was introduced to replace traditional pellets.
- As in Ancient Greece, the events are all conducted on the one day.
- Women first competed as Olympians in the event at the 2000 Sydney Games.
In the pool, competitors race in heats in the 200m freestyle and earn points for their times (the faster you are, the more points you get).
In the fencing, athletes compete in a series of one-touch bouts with the epee. Every athlete faces off against every other athlete once and scores points for every bout won (if you win lots of bouts, you win lots of points).
The athletes then compete in a show jumping competition where they must clear 10 obstacles over a 350-400m course (you start with 300 points, you lose points for penalties).
The final event combines running and shooting in a 3200m race where athletes must stop four times to shoot a laser pistol at a target 10m away. Once an athlete hits the target five times (or 50 secs passes), they can resume running. This final leg is a matter of speed, accuracy and pacing oneself to optimise the best result.