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What were the 5 sports in the old pentathlon in the original Olympics? What are the modern ones?

The pentathlon in the modern Olympics consists of swimming, show jumping, shooting, and running. But how do these differ from the ancient Olympic Games?

27 July 2021, Japan, Tokyo: US' Courtney Hurley (L) in action against South Korea's Sera Song during the Women's Epee Team Quarterfinal Fencing match at Makuhari Messe Hall, during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire/d
DPA vía Europa Press

In the modern Olympics, the pentathlon events are fencing, a freestyle swim of 200-meters, 15 jumps in equestrian show jumping, as well as a mixed event of cross country running and pistol shooting.

However, this was not always this case.

In the ancient Olympic Games, the pentathlon consisted of five distinct events, some of which are separate sports in the modern Olympics.

What were the 5 events in the pentathlon in the Ancient Olympic Games?

  • The stadion (a 200-meter race)
  • The long jump
  • The discus throw
  • The javelin throw
  • A wrestling match

These events were not only held at the Ancient Greek Olympics, but also at the Pythian Games and the Nemean Games, which were all part of the Panhellenic Festivals. In the historic games, the final event was always wrestling.

In the Ancient Olympic Games, how was a winner chosen?

Though there is no certainty on the subject, historians believe that the participants would each compete in the first four events, and those with the highest score would compete in the final wrestling match.

How old is the pentathlon?

In 708 BC, the pentathlon was incorporated into the Olympic Games. The modern pentathlon was incorporated into the Olympic Games in 1912.

Who is competing in the pentathlon for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics?

These five American army soldiers based at Fort Carson in Colorado will be competing at the pentathlon:

  • Ildar Hafizov
  • Samantha Schultz
  • Amro Elgeziry
  • Benard Keter
  • Alejandro Sancho

Both Amro Elgeziry and Samantha Schultz rank as sergeants in the US military.

In the ancient Olympics, winners were awarded a crown of olive leaves. Sometimes, the winners would earn perks such as lodging and theatre tickets. Today, winners earn notoriety, along with a gold, silver, or bronze medal.


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