The Olympic sport of Modern Pentathlon was created as a throwback to the original reason for the Olympics: Preparing young men for war.
“As the events of the ancient pentathlon were modeled after the skills of the ideal soldier of that time, Coubertin created the contest to simulate the experience of a 19th-century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines: he must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight enemies with pistol and sword, swim, and run to return to his own soldiers.”
The events of the modern penthalon are:
- Fighting with a sword (Fencing)
- Fighting with a pistol (Was 10m air pistol, now they use lasers)
- Swim (200m Freestyle)
- Ride (Show Jumping)
- Running (3km cross country)
It’s not the 19th century, and we’re not fighting wars based on Edwardian tactics and equipment anymore. The needs of an ideal soldier have changed quite a lot in 200 years, and “modern” pentathlon doesn’t seem all that modern these days. If the IOOC were going to update the modern pentathlon to reflect the needs of today’s soldiers, what sports would they chose?
There are rigid guidelines that control which sports are and are not in the Olympics, so the chances of getting something new like 3 Gun into the games are mighty slim. Therefore, the post-modern pentathlon needs to use five previously-existing sports which have some application to the modern battlefield.
In other words, no rhythmic gymnastics.
My suggestion for the (really) modern pentathlon are:
- Fighting with a rifle (50m Three Position)
- Fighting with a pistol (25m Rapid Fire)
- Unarmed Combat (Judo)
- Swimming (200m Freestyle)
- Running (3k Steeplechase)
Cavalry these days rides in light armored vehicles, not on horses, and they’re hasn’t been a need for swords in combat for quite some time. Rather than base the sports on a cavalry trooper, I chose sports based around light infantry or special forces. The rifle and pistol choices are obvious, and I chose Judo as a hand-to-hand sport because it’s the closest to the today’s mixed fighting arts I could find on the list of designated Olympic sports. I kept swimming as is (really tempted to swap it out for 200m Medley) and rather than a cross-country run, I chose the 3000 metre steeplechase because it adds in elements from obstacle courses to make things a little more exciting. My selections are a little heavy on the combat side, and if I had to swap one combat sport for a non-combat sport, I’d probably go with sprint kayak over pistol to reflect the needs of troops to infiltrate enemy regions over water.
Ok, your five?