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Moscow 1980


Starostin enters modern pentathlon record books

Starostin enters modern pentathlon record books


The modern pentathlon is that classic Olympic event testing a competitor’s ability in rounds of shooting, swimming, fencing, riding and running.

The brainchild of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, it is an event traditionally stretched over five days and which throws a unique set of challenges to the field.

The event at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow was of the highest standard, with the leading 25 all passing the landmark 5,000-point barrier.

The battle for gold fell between two men; the baby-faced 20-year-old Russian Anatoly Starostin and the Hungarian athlete Tamas Szombathelyi.

Szombathelyi took an early lead after an outstanding shooting round was bettered only by Swede George Horvath, who became the first person to fire a perfect round since the 1936 Games in Berlin.

He extended his lead after a narrow victory over Starostin in the 200m freestyle swim but the Russian reversed the tables with a tight victory in the fencing.

It was in the riding that Starostin made the crucial breakthrough, garnering 72 more points than his Hungarian rival and opening up a lead that he would never relinquish.

He clocked the eight fastest time of the final running round, and started with a big enough cushion over the Hungarian to reach the line first.

At 20, he became the youngest man ever to win the Olympic title.

The combined scores of Starostin and team-mates Pavlo Lednyov and Yevgeny Lipeyev was enough to give Russia gold in the now defunct team event.

Starostin helped Russia to a team silver in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, and he finished just outside of the medals in fourth in the individual event at the age of 32.

Discover the best photos of Moscow 1980

  • Opening Ceremony Moscow 1980

    The final torchbearer, basketballer Sergei Belov, in the Moscow Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony


  • Relay Moscow 1980

    A torchbearer during the Moscow 1980 Games Torch relay


  • Aleksandr Dityatin (URS)

    Aleksandr Dityatin on the rings at the Moscow 1980 Games


  • Winner's medal Moscow 1980

    The reverse of this medal is very different from its obverse. However, it is not the work of the same artist. While the obverse was a creation by Giuseppe Cassioli, the reverse was designed by Ilya Postol, a young Soviet sculptor. We can see several elements that stand out through their stylisation: an Olympic cauldron, an athletics track in the background and the official logo of the Moscow Games on the top right ©CIO

  • Winner's medal Moscow 1980

    The obverse comprises a design by Tuscan artist Giuseppe Cassioli. This motif can be found on the obverse of all the winner’s medals presented at the Summer Games since 1928 with the exception of three special cases: Barcelona'92, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. An inscription, in Cyrillic, allows us to make the link with the Moscow Games. This is its transcription in the Latin alphabet and its translation: “Igry XXII Olympiady Moskva 1980” / “Games of the XXII Olympiad, Moscow 1980”©IOC

  • Opening Ceremony Moscow 1980

    View of the delegations standing in front of the Misha mascot created by the public holding up boards