The modern pentathlon events at Nanjing 2014 will feature the latest developments made in a sport that was invented by none other than Baron Pierre de Coubertin at the start of the 20th century. Since 2009, shooting and running have been combined in a single event resembling biathlon, while air pistols were replaced by laser guns and electronic targets in 2010, which means competitors no longer have to reload their weapons.
A further change was made to the combined running and shooting discipline in 2014, with the previous format of three 1,000m laps and three shooting rounds being replaced by four 800m laps and four shooting rounds.
The modern pentathlon competition at Nanjing 2014 will comprise four events (fencing, swimming and running/shooting), all taking place over the course of a single day. Unlike at the Olympic Games and other senior competitions, mod ern pentathlon at youth level does not feature an equestrian component.
The competition begins with a preliminary fencing round in which participants compete against each other in one-minute, one-touch bouts. Should a bout end with no hits being scored, both competitors will be awarded a loss. The ranking at the end of this first round determines the start order for the final round.
After breaking off to contest the 200m freestyle swimming competition, the athletes promptly pick up their swords again for the final round of the fencing, which this time follows a knockout format and determines the final standings.
The overall points ranking at the end of the first two events determines the starting order for the combined running and shooting event, with the leader starting first and the other athletes setting off at time intervals determined by the points difference between themselves and the athlete ahead of them, with one point translating into one second. In both individual events the first competitor to cross the finish line takes the gold medal.
The mixed relay
The mixed relay, which promises to be an exciting spectacle, will be contested by 24 teams, each comprising one male and one female athlete, with the female team members starting first in each discipline.
The female athlete in the team that leads the competition at the end of the fencing and 2x100m freestyle swimming rounds will set off first in the combined running and shooting event (two laps of 800m and two shooting rounds). On completing the course, they will hand over to their male team-mates, who will fight it out for the final positions.