The Olympic Pentathlon consists of five different sporting events. The modern pentathlon is composite event which tests the endurance, strength, timing, precision and skill of an athlete. The events are performed consecutively in a predetermined order. The modern Olympic events include swimming, shooting, equestrian, fencing and running. Women did not participate in pentathlon until the 1970’s and the first world championship was not held until 1980. The Olympic Pentathlon excluded women from the event until the year 2000 when women took part in Sydney, Australia. However, this is only one feature where modern pentathlon differs from the Ancient Olympiad version first held in the year 708 B.C.
Besides the fact that the ancient competitors competed without any clothing, the events were the discus throw, long jump, javelin throw, foot race and wrestling. Wrestling and running were considered individual events as well, while javelin, discus, and long jump were considered only as part as the pentathlon series. Although a few events are ancient versions of contests held today, the rules and methods were quite different.
Wrestling was held in a sand pit out side of the stadium. The opponents covered themselves in oil and dust, and grappled each other to the ground without striking each other. As an individual event, there were three different categories of competitors: boys, youth, and adult men.
The rest of the events were held inside of the stadium. There were four different foot races. One foot race was raced wearing armor while the other races varied in length. The javelin, which was as thin as a forefinger, had a leather grip for the athlete to grasp in the middle of a wooden stick with a metal point. The discus area much much smaller than today. Each athlete was allowed five throws for each the javelin and discus. The long jump was made more complicated as weights of stone or metal were to the person with the idea that the weight would propel him further.
Fortunately, the modern Olympic Pentathlon has progressed in the sporting events themselves, the inclusion of female competition, and the dress code. Today’s Olympic Pentathlon is based on the modern pentathlon concept developed in the 19th century based on the strength and endurance training of the military. Modern pentathlon was introduced to the Olympics in 1912.
Today’s Olympic Pentathlon, the next which will be occurring in London, England during the 100th Year Celebration of the Modern Olympic Pentathlon, the five events will take place within a single day. Until the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the events were held over a four to five day schedule. For the first time, the running and shooting elements will be held in combination. This will be held in Greenwich Park, while fencing will be held in the handball arena and the swimming events take place at the aquatic center. With only one medal event at stake, 36 men and 36 women will compete to determine the winner of day in courage, self-discipline and physical fitness.
It is widely stated that Aristotle remarked that the body of a pentathlon athlete was the most beautiful as it combined both elements of strength and endurance.
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