The 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games 16-28 August 2014 Nanjing, China


Modern Pentathlon

Mascot Plays
- Competition Arrangement

1. Time & Venue

The Modern Pentathlon events of Second Youth Olympic Games will be held in the Nanjing International Expo Centre and the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre from 22 to 26 August, 2014.

2. Events

Three events including a men’s event, a women’s event and a mixed team relay event.

3. Number of Athletes

48 athletes including 24 males and 24 females

4. Medals

Athletes and teams that win the first three places in each event will be awarded gold, silver and bronze medals respectively.

- Find Out More

1. Overview of Modern Pentathlon

Modern pentathlon is so called as compared with ancient pentathlon, which was found 2,700 years ago at the 18th Ancient Olympic Games in 708 BC and comprised running, long jump, javelin throw, discus throw and wrestling. Baron Pierre de Coubertin reinstated and restored the Olympic Games in 1896, the 1st Modern Olympic Games. To pass on the legacy of the ancient pentathlon, which simultaneously demonstrates the endurance, skills and wisdom of an athlete, Coubertin had committed himself to bringing ancient pentathlon back to the Olympic Games since 1909. He wrote many times to the Swedish Military Sports Federation, hoping they would launch this combined sport similar to ancient pentathlon in the army. The Federation agreed and launched 300m swimming, 4,000m cross-country running, shooting, equestrian and fencing. These traditional and practical sport from early 20th-century Europe became the foundation of modern pentathlon, which appeared formally at the Games of the V Olympiad in Sweden in 1912. It has since entered a new era, while Coubertin was praised as the father of modern pentathlon.

Regarding the combination of five different sports into the sport of modern pentathlon, a romantic legend has it that, upon being assigned a task, a signaller raced across the rugged plain atop a fine horse. He hurdled over one obstacle after another before being ambushed by the enemy who then killed his horse. He retaliated the pursuers with a pistol. When he ran out of bullets, he pulled out his sword and fought off the enemy. He then jumped into the river and swam across it. Eventually, he ran to the destination and delivered the message. This may be a story, but the different demands that pentathlon has of the athletes make it an all-around competitive sport, which Coubertin called ‘a real man’s sport’.

Modern pentathlon would take over 5 days, one event per day at each edition of the Olympic Games held between 1912 and 1980, Attempts were made to reduce the duration of the competition to 4 days between 1984 and 1992. Starting from 1996 till now, it has been required to complete the 5 events within a day. Women’s events have been added since the Olympic Games in 2000.

The International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) drastically revised the rules after the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, whereby running and shooting were combined together as one event. Air pistols used in the shooting were replaced by laser pistols and targets as of 1 January 2012, athletes therefore no longer need to load bullets before shooting. UIPM also changed the combined event of running and shooting to 4 sets of shooting and 800m running from 3 sets of shooting and 1,000m running in 2013.

Modern pentathlon was directly managed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) between 1912 and 1948, thereafter Gustaf Dyrssen, 1920 Olympic Champion, from Sweden founded the UIPM and became its first President. The biathlon was added to the Olympic Winter Games in 1960 and joined UIPM, which gave birth to a new international organisation: International Modern Pentathlon and Biathlon Union (UIPMB). The International Modern Pentathlon Union and Biathlon Union broke away from the organisation and worked independently in 1984 and 1998. Modern pentathlon was defined as one of the 25 core sports at the Olympic Games by the IOC Executive Board meeting held in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 12 February 2013.

2. Modern Pentathlon in China

2.1. Development

Start-up and popularisation: 1980 – 1998 was the start-up and popularisation phase for the sport in China. China first came into contact with modern pentathlon in 1980. The then State Sports Commission of China approved the formal launch of the sport in May 1982, and a national training team was formed. 7 male athletes were chosen from the swimming teams of Shanghai, Tianjin, Hubei, Henan and Inner Mongolia to participate in the training. 18 female athletes were chosen from some provincial and municipal swimming teams to join the training in September 1982. 12 horses were purchased for equestrian training in 1983. To ensure quick understanding of the training knowledge and competition rules of modern pentathlon, a Hungarian coach was invited to give lectures in China, while the national team coach translated textbooks of 400,000 words and competition rules of 200,000 words. Thanks to the above efforts made, a sound foundation was thus laid for the development of modern pentathlon in China. The sport gained momentum and a dozen provinces across China began developing this newly introduced sport. Chinese athletes came out 4th place in women’s individuals and 5th place in women’s team at the World Modern Pentathlon Championships in 1986, and captured 2nd place in women’s team at the UIPM Junior World Championships 1989.

Unstability and stagnation period: From 1990 to 1997, the sport underwent a phase of unstability and stagnation, during which the then State Sports Commission of China began to implement the Olympic strategy. As women’s events of modern pentathlon were not included in the Olympic Games at the time, the women’s events were therefore cancelled at the 7th and 8th National Games of the People’s Republic of China. The provinces and municipals that were developing modern pentathlon began to place less focus on the men’s events due to factors such as relatively high cost of the sport. The number of provinces, municipals and athletes involved in the development of modern pentathlon in China dropped drastically due to many reasons, and shrank to 3 merely provinces and municipals and 20 athletes by 1994.

Revival and progress: 1998 to present is the phase of revival and progress. Due to organisational change in the then State Sports Commission of China, administration of modern pentathlon was delegated to Cycling and Fencing Sports Administration Center in November 1997, which developed a new development plan for the sport. Following the inclusion of women’s events of modern pentathlon to the Olympic Games in 1998, the General Administration of Sports of China reinstated the women’s events at the 9th National Games of the People’s Republic of China. The number of provinces, municipals and athletes involved in the development of modern pentathlon also began to pick up gradually. Currently, 21 provinces and municipals in China are involved in the development of modern pentathlon. Chinese athletes won 5 gold medals at the Modern Pentathlon AMPC Asian Championships 2000 and represented Asia at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games the same year, where the men’s team finished 24th and the women 20th. The men’s team finished 16th and women 24th at the 2004 Olympics.


2.2. Major Achievements

Qian Zhenhua became world champion at the 2005 World Modern Pentathlon Championships in Poland with a total score of 5,756 on 7 August 2005. Qian finished 4th in men’s events, while Chen Qian finished 5th in the women’s events at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Chen became world champion at the 2009 World Modern Pentathlon Championships in the U.K. with a total score of 5,840 on 17 August 2009. China won 3 gold medals, 2 silver medals and all champions of 2 Olympics events in the four events of modern pentathlon at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, successfully re-wrote the historical record of zero gold medals. Cao Zhongrong won individuals’ silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, thus stopping the monopoly that Europe has over modern pentathlon and break the zero medal record of China in modern pentathlon at the Olympic Games. The outstanding achievements represent major breakthroughs in the Chinese history of modern pentathlon, and signify a new phase in which China will catch up and overtake world standard in the development of the sport.


3. Spectators Guide

3.1. Order of Events and Results Calculation

The modern pentathlon of the Youth Olympic Games consists of four events, namely fencing, swimming and the combined event of running and shooting. The combined score of fencing and swimming of the athlete will determine the order at the starting line of the running and shooting event, which will start with the athlete with the highest score and so on. Finally, the first athlete to reach the finish line in the running and shooting event will be the champion of modern pentathlon.

3.2. Competition Rules

Electronic épée is used in fencing, which includes round robin and challenge competitions. For round robin, each participant has to compete with the other participants. Each round is one-minute long and the first athlete to hit the other athlete in any part of the body wins the round. Should neither athlete hit the other, both athletes are considered to have lost. The score of the event is based on the number of win. The order of the challenge competition is determined by the ranking in round robin in reverse order. That is, the last two athletes in round robin will compete first, and the first athlete will compete last. Same competition rules apply to both round robin and challenge competitions, and only one piste is used. In the challenge competitions, the winner will move on to the next round and compete with the athlete with higher rank in round robin. This means winning athletes will continue to move up the rank accordingly, while losing athletes will drop down the rank.

200m freestyle is adopted for the swimming event. Athletes may use any style to complete the 4 laps in a 50-metre standard pool. The athlete used the least amount of time gains the highest score.

In the combined event of running and shooting, the difference between the scores of leading athletes and other athletes will be converted into seconds, and athletes will take their position at such order. While completing the 3,200-metre run, athletes must complete 4 sets of shooting and 4 sets of 800-metre run. In each shooting set, athletes must fire 5 shots and hit ring seven or above within 50 seconds before moving on. Should athletes failed to hit ring seven or above with the 5 shots, the 50-second shooting time must be waited out before moving on.

After completing the five running and shooting events, athletes are ranked according to the order of arrival at the finish line. The top three will be awarded with gold, silver and bronze medals accordingly.


3.3. Gold Medal Dates

3 gold medals are designated for the modern pentathlon of the 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games. They will be presented on 23rd (one), 24th (one) and 26th (one) August.

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