London 2012: Bonkers brilliance of Olympics modern pentathlon comes to Greenwich (From Bucks Free Press)
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London 2012: Bonkers brilliance of Olympics modern pentathlon comes to Greenwich
IF you thought freestyle dressage was nuts, prepare yourself for the bonkers brilliance of modern pentathlon, coming to Greenwich Park this weekend.
You could be mistaken for thinking its aim is to find the ultimate fighting machine, as competitors must fence, swim, ride a horse and then run for 3,000m while intermittently shooting a laser gun.
If that hasn’t got you excited then how about the fact that the women’s competition will see the last medal awarded at the Games - a demonstration of real girl power before the inevitable Spice Girls appearance at the closing ceremony.
The sport was invented 100 years ago by the founder of the modern Olympics Baron Pierre de Courbertin who wanted it to be the ultimate physical and mental test.
In its 2012 form, the different disciplines take place in one day rather than across five, while the running and shooting have been forged together into a ‘combined event’.
Running through Greenwich Park is likely to take a toll on the runners, who will have to go uphill, though many have had a taster at last year’s test event.
Current Olympic champ Lena Schoneborn said: “I had some good experiences there last year, so I’m looking forward to trying.”
There are four disciplines, with points awarded in the first three. The person with the most points starts the final event first with the rest of the field having a one second handicap for every four points they are behind the winner. The first person over the Greenwich Park finish line takes gold.
Fencing - Each athlete must fence all 35 of their rivals with an electric epee in bouts where just one hit is needed to win. Winning 25 bouts gets you 1,000 points with each victory or defeat above or below that figure worth a plus or minus score of 24 points.
Swimming - Competitors do a 200m freestyle swim against each other in heats. A time of 2:30 gets you 1,000 points, with every third of a second faster or slower worth plus or minus four points.
Riding - Athletes ride unfamiliar horses around 12 jumps at the Greenwich arena, at similar heights to the ones already used in three-day eventing. They are docked 20 points for knocking down a jump, 40 for a refusal to jump and 60 for a fall. Four points are lost for every second over the time limit.
Combined - Athletes run 3,000m around the bottom of the park, stopping to shoot at five targets at the Queen’s House end of the arena before each 1,000m leg. Laser guns are being used for the first time in this Olympics. You can only start your next leg after hitting all the targets or if 70 seconds have passed.
Aug 11 - Men’s final
8.45am-11.42am - Fencing (Copper Box)
1.20pm - 1.44pm - Swimming (Aquatics Centre)
3.56pm - 5.44pm - Riding (Greenwich Park)
6.44pm - 7.04pm - Combined event (Greenwich Park)
Aug 12 - Women’s final
8am-10.57am - Fencing (Copper Box)
12.35pm-12.59pm - Swimming (Aquatics Centre)
3.11pm-4.59pm - Riding (Greenwich Park)
5.59pm-6.19pm - Combined event (Greenwich Park)
Aleksander Lesun of Russia is currently ranked number one in the world, with team mate Andrei Moiseev just behind him.
For Team GB, 26-year-old Nick Woodbridge, a swimming and fencing specialist, will be hoping for a good event while Sam Weale will be wanting a boost from the crowds.
For the women, Lithuanian laura Asadauskaite is currently the top modern pentathlon competitor while the last Olympic champion Lena Schoneborn of Germany is fourth in the world rankings.
Mhairi Spence of Great Britain is ranked number two in the world. Samantha Murray, from Bath may also fancy her chances.
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