5 – 1 = 4, unless it equals 5

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olympic_pictogram_modern_pentathlonThe Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne held their 2008 Congress in Guatemala in November, and the main headline from the Congress was the decision to combine two of the five Modern Pentathlon events into a single competition.

From its introduction at the 1912 Olympics until the end of 2008, the five events of the Modern Pentathlon have included running, fencing, swimming, show jumping, and shooting. (The phrase Modern Pentathlon is meant to distinguish this competition from the Pentathlon, an ancient Olympic event involving competitions in javelin, shot put, wrestling, discus, and running.)

The recent change has involved combining the running and shooting events into a combined event:

Athletes will begin … with a short run to the shooting range, here they take 5 shots before a 1km run. They repeat this 2 further times, in total 15 shots and 3km run. [link]

Unlike the winter biathlon, athletes will not carry their sidearms while running.

The Yahoo News article on this describes it as changing the Pentathlon from five to four events, which raises some obvious doubts as to nomenclature. (Quadrathlon, perhaps?) The UIPM insists, though, that the Pentathlon is not being reduced to four events, since “All five disciplines are still equally represented and competed”.

I anticipate a fantastic Final Jeopardy question: “The combined number of events in the Decathlon, the Heptathlon, and the Modern Pentathlon.”

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