P is for Pentathlon

‘Pente’ is the Greek word for ‘five’ and ‘athlon’ is the word for ‘contest’.

1) In the ancient Olympics, naked athletes competed against each other in the long jump (from a standing position), javelin, throwing a discus, running and wrestling. This ancient competition was revived for the 1906 modern Olympics in Athens (although the competitors were allowed to wear clothes).

2)  The pentathlon was then modified for the 1912 games when the standing long jump and Greco-Roman wrestling was replaced by the modern long jump (with a run up) and the 1500m race.  This competition was discontinued after the 1924 games.

3) The modern pentathlon was introduced in 1912 (alongside the more classical pentathlon).  This event continues to this day and features fencing, swimming, show jumping and the combined running and shooting.

Modern pentathlete


4) The pentathlon for women was introduced in the 1964 games in Tokyo and included hurdling, shot put, high jump, long jump and 200 metre race.

5) The women’s event was changed in 1976 with the hurdles over 100m and the running over 800m.  The event was replaced by the women’s heptathlon in 1984.