Between now and next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio we will be focusing on the different sports and Team GB athletes to keep an eye out for. The latest Olympic Spotlight sees us concentrate on modern pentathlon.
WHERE: Deodoro Aquatics Centre, Deodoro Stadium and Youth Arena
WHEN: August 18-20
MEDAL EVENTS: 2 (men’s and women’s individual)
DID YOU KNOW:
The modern pentathlon simulates the experience of a 19th-century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines where he or she must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with sword and pistol, swim and run.
ABOUT THE SPORT:
Pentathlon was first held in the ancient Olympic Games in 708 BC and comprised running, long jump, spear throwing, discus and wrestling.
The modern pentathlon was then created especially for the Olympic Games by founder of the modern Games Baron Pierre de Coubertin and first contested in 1912.
It consists of epee fencing, pistol shooting, 200m freestyle swimming, show jumping on horseback and a cross country run.
From 1912 until 2000, only a men’s event was contested before the women’s event was added for Sydney.
Swedish athletes dominated modern pentathlon after its introduction in 1912, earning a clean sweep of the podium at the first three Olympic Games and winning eight of the first nine gold medals.
The event was staged over four or five days until Atlanta 1996 when it was compacted into a single day of action
Thirty-six athletes will compete each in the men’s and women’s events with each country qualifying a maximum of two modern pentathletes per event.
Berths were initially distributed based on competition results between January and August 2015 with one place awarded to the winner of the 2015 World Cup final.
A further 20 places were determined by the continental championships, three places given to the highest-ranked athletes at each of the 2015 and 2016 World Championships with the remaining seven slots being distributed based on the world rankings.
From a British perspective, Joe Choong and Kate French both qualified quota places at the 2015 European Championships while Samantha Murray did likewise at the World Championships that year.
And the final Team GB berth was earned by Jamie Cooke through his spot in the world rankings in June 2016.
DID YOU KNOW:
General George S Patton, commander of the US Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy, came fifth in the modern pentathlon at the Stockholm 1912 Games.
TEAM GB SUCCESS:
Team GB’s first modern pentathlon medal was gold, won in the men’s team event by the trio of Jim Fox, Danny Nightingale and Adrian Parker at Montreal 1976 while in Seoul 12 years later Richard Phelps, Dominic Mahony and Graham Brookhouse won team bronze.
Team GB are yet to win a men’s individual medal but since the introduction of the women’s event in Sydney 2000 there has been plenty of success.
In fact, Team GB have walked away with at least one medal at every Games since – Stephanie Cook and Kate Allenby winning the inaugural gold and bronze respectively while Georgina Harland also took bronze at Athens 2004.
Heather Fell then won silver in Beijing four years later, a result matched by Samantha Murray at London 2012 and Murray will be looking to go one better at Rio 2016.
Those medals mean Team GB sit sixth in the all-time medal table, level with Italy, as Hungary and Sweden take the top two spots.
TEAM GB HOPES FOR RIO:
Team GB have confirmed a four-strong squad for Rio 2016 with two men and two women selected to compete.
Samantha Murray will look to become the first British modern pentathlete to medal at multiple Olympic Games following her silver at London 2012 and will be joined in Rio by Olympic debutant Kate French.
Since the London Games, Murray has won individual gold at the 2014 World Championships in Warsaw to add to her team gold from a year earlier.
The men’s event will see two Brits appearing at their first Games in the form of Jamie Cooke and Joe Choong with the latter showing his form by finishing fourth at the Rome World Cup event in April 2016.