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The Olympic sport of modern pentathlon involves fencing, swimming, show jumping, pistol shooting and running. The sport was introduced at the 1912 Olympics by the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, and embraced the spirit of the pentathlon of the ancient Greek Games, where the five sports were running, jumping, javelin, discus and wrestling.
Athletes fence all other competitors once using electric epees. Bouts are fenced for one hit and last a maximum of one minute. Double hits are annulled. If neither fencer has scored a hit within the time limit, both athletes score a defeat. An athlete who wins 25 of their 35 bouts will get 250 pentathlon points, with each victory or defeat above or below this number worth a plus or minus score of 6 points.
A new fencing Bonus Round is currently being trialled. This additional stage to the competition gives athletes the chance to win bonus points and top up their scores.
A 200m freestyle swim, where the athletes are seeded in heats according their personal best times. The heats are seeded with the fastest swimmers competing in the final heat. A time of 2:30 is worth 250 pentathlon points and every third of a second faster or slower than this time being worth a plus or minus score of one point.
Athletes ride unfamiliar horses over a series of 12 fences. The athletes have just 20 minutes in the warm-up arena over five practice jumps before coming out to compete.
A clear round within the time allowed is worth 300 pentathlon points. Competitors lose 7 points for each jump they knock down, and 10 points for a refusal to jump or a fall, which is equivalent to a 10-second handicap in the final combined event. They also lose one point for each second they are over the allowed time.
Combined Event (running and shooting)
The combined event begins with a handicapped start, calculated on the basis of the results after the previous events. Athletes run a total distance of 3200m, interspersed by shooting four sets of electronic targets. Only after having hit the target five times with an unlimited number of shots OR after a time of 50 seconds can the competitor start from the firing point to perform each running leg of 800m. A time of 13 minutes 20 seconds equates to 500 pentathlon points, with each second faster or slower than this time being worth a plus or minus score of one point.