Olympics 2008: Modern Pentathlon in China

The modern pentathlon was a men’s Olympic sport which started in 1912. In 2000, there was for the first time a Modern Pentathlon competition for women.

Included in the competition are five individual disciplines; shooting, fencing, swimming, riding and running. It is this extraordinary combination that makes the competition so interesting. Since the Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta, these five completely different disciplines have to be held over a single day. At all previous Olympic Games, the competition was usually held over four to six days.
At shooting the athletes have to fire 20 shots on targets that lie 10 metres away within 40 seconds. They have to fence against each other in rounds that run for no longer than 1 minute. If nobody scores within this time frame, then both will be deemed to have lost. At the swimming competition, the athletes have to do 200m in freestyle. However, the greatest surprises await the athletes is the riding competition, due to the fact that the horses are assigned to each athlete by drawing lots. Thus the athletes cannot prepare themselves for one specific horse, but they have instead only 20 minutes to ‘become friends’ with the horse, in order to manage the subsequent 350-450m long riding course, including 12 obstacles. After this, the athletes have finally still to run 3000m.
Until recently, the Chinese athletes were overall not very successful in Modern Pentathlon at the Olympic Games. Nevertheless, in August 2005 a sensation happened: an Asian athlete won for the first time World championship in Modern Pentathlon. Twenty-six year old Chinese Qian Zhenhua obtained the title in Warsaw in Poland to the surprise of all sports experts. The silver and bronze medals were awarded to two Russian athletes.
After, the Chinese continued successfully in the World Championship and in September 2006 in Cairo they achieved another a title: Cao Zhongrong, Qian Zhenhua, Liu Yang and Liu Yanli won in Team competition.

However, the Chinese athletes could not repeat the previous successes in 2007. Instead, three ‘Non-Asians’ were awarded medals at the world championship on 14 April 2007: Gabor Balogh from Hungary, Dmyto Kirpulyanskyy from Ukraine and Edvinas Krungolcas from Lithuania.

Thus it remains a case of uncertainty whether China will be successful in the Modern Pentathlon at the next Olympic Games. Although, since the Chinese athletes have previously without any success, even a bronze medal would be enthusiastically received.

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