Modern Pentathlon


Vital Information:

Venue: Copper Box - Olympic Park (fencing); Aquatics Centre - Olympic Park (swimming); and Greenwich Park (riding, combined event)

Dates: Saturday 11th – Sunday 12th August

Competing Athletes: 72 (36 men, 36 women)

Medal Events: 2


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The Basics

Modern Pentathlon competitions are conducted over a single day. The first element is fencing, for which athletes are required to fence against every other athlete. The fencing is then followed by swimming (200m freestyle) and riding (jumping over a 12-jump course). Athletes are given a score for each element of the competition.

After the first three elements, the athletes’ total scores are converted into a time handicap. The handicap determines the starting times for the combined run/shoot element, for which athletes are required to shoot at sets of five targets after running several stretches of 1,000m. The winner of the competition is the athlete who crosses the finish line first.



Jargon Buster


  • Epée: A thrusting sword, the épée is used in the fencing element of Modern Pentathlon competitions.
  • Freestyle: The swimming element is a freestyle race, which in effect means that all athletes favour the front crawl.
  • Handicap start: In the combined element, the event leader starts first and the other athletes begin afterwards in competition order, with the start times dependent on the results of the previous three events.