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Asian Games Modern Pentathlon format, sports - Explained

India will be making an Asian Games debut in Modern pentathlon, one of the oldest Olympic sports. Here's a look at the 5 sports it encompasses.

Asian Games Modern Pentathlon format, sports - Explained

Modern Pentathlon will have only one Indian representation at the Asian Games in China.


Deepanshu Jain

Updated: 19 Sep 2023 7:24 PM GMT

Modern Pentathlon, an Olympic sport since 1912, is a combination of five different sports - fencing, freestyle swimming, equestrian show jumping, pistol shooting and cross-country running. The combination of five very different sports - requiring different levels of agility, accuracy, control and endurance - makes pentathlon one of the most unique Olympic sports.

In ancient Greece, modern pentathlon used to comprise stadion (a short foot race), javelin throw, discus throw, long jump and wrestling. The combination of skills required in these sports was thought to be elements of those required by a soldier in battle.

Modern Pentathlon is one of three sports that India will be making debuts in at the 2023 Asian Games, set to officially begin in Hangzhou, China from September 23. Mayank Chaphekar, India's sole pentathlete in Hangzhou, was a late addition to the Indian contingent. He joins India's cricket and eSports teams as the three representatives at India's debuts at the Asian Games.

Modern Pentathlon itself made an Asian Games debut in 1994 in Hiroshima, Japan. It was excluded from the Asiad roaster for the next edition before returning to the 2002 Games. Modern Pentathlon missed the Doha Asian Games in 2006 before returning in 2010. It was also part of the Asiad in 2014 and 2018 editions.

Mayank Chaphekar is part of the Indian contingent for the Hangzhou Asiad. Mayank, India's first-ever pentathlete to take part in the Asian Games, will look to win India's maiden medal at the event.

Modern Pentathlon kicks off on September 20, Wednesday, and the final will be held on September 24, Sunday.


The format of the Modern Pentathlon has kept changing over the years. The following is the format of the Modern Pentathlon event at the Asian Games 2023.

The first of the five disciplines is fencing. Fencing consists of two rounds, both with the epees. In the first round, all the athletes go head to head against each other for a battle which ends if someone gets one hit within one minute. If no hit has been achieved by any player in the given time, both players will be declared as losers.

Every win gives points to athletes on the overall table. For example, if anyone has a 70 per cent win, he will get 250 points. Anything more than that will mean more than 250 points and vice versa. In the second round, the time is reduced to 45 seconds and the bout takes place based on the seeds from first-round scores. Losers are eliminated from that round. Every win again gives points which get added to the first round's scores.

Fencing, which is an individual event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, will also figure in modern pentathlon.

Freestyle swimming: In freestyle swimming, every player has to swim a distance of 200 metres. Points will be decided on the timing achieved by every athlete. For example, 250 points will be given if anyone clocks a timing of 2 minutes and 30 seconds and so on.

Riding: Here, athletes will go through a show jumping course which will have 12 obstacles and after completing the course they can get a maximum of 300 points. Points can be reduced based on penalties. One thing which is different here from equestrian is that athletes can't bring their own horses, instead they will be provided on the spot. The horses will be unfamiliar to the athletes, and they will get 20 minutes of practice with them before the competition.

Equestrian Fouaad Mirza in action at the 2018 Asian Games.

Laser-Run: This is the last event of the modern pentathlon. It is a combination of both pistol shooting and cross-country-running. Here, athletes' starting time varies based on their scores from the last three events.

If the leader has 500 points and the following athlete has 490, the latter will start with a 10-second delay and the same would apply to the ones behind. Athletes will run for 3200 metres and will stop four times to shoot at the targets with a laser pistol. They have to stay at the target until they shoot five targets (with unlimited attempts).

The final positions in the Modern Pentathlon will be decided on the overall points of all the athletes across the five events.

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