Modern Pentathlon guide - London 2012 Olympic Games

Your complete guide to pentathlon ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Modern Pentathlete Kate Allenby Shooting

Modern Pentathlete Kate Allenby Shooting Photograph: Cavan Pawson / Evening Standard

Converted: A five-event bonanza designed to simulate the experience of a nineteenth century soldier behind enemy lines. Guns, swords and horses included. Now THAT’s a sport.

Confused:  A weird discipline for indecisive athletes who have no idea what sport they should be doing.

RECOMMENDED: See our full list of London 2012 Olympic sport guides

Modern Pentathlon - The essential guide

Street cred: Pentathletes are ferociously dedicated all-round sportspeople who would be brilliant allies in a jungle-based war, although hopefully it won’t ever come to that.

Who’s good? Traditionally the eastern Europeans, such as Hungary, Russia and the Czechs.

The basics: The whole shebang takes place on one crazy, action-packed day when athletes do fencing, swimming, horse-riding and a bizarre shooting/running combo (in that order). First past the finish line wins.

Athlete to watch: Reigning world champion David Svoboda, from the Czech Republic, is a hot favorite. 

Almost useless fact: In a recent survey, modern pentathlon was revealed to be the least popular sport among UK teenagers, with just one percent of respondents keen to try it.

As seen in: The 1994 movie ‘Pentathlon’, described on IMDB thus: ‘An Olympic gold medalist escapes to freedom in the US, only to be tracked down by his sadistic ex-coach.’ And the gold medalist is Dolph Lundgren.

Do say: ‘Anything that has been an Olympic sport since 708 BC is good enough for me.’

Don't say: ‘Do they sell those laser guns in the Olympic souvenir shops?’