2012 pentathlon/triathlon: Modern times

Modern pentathlon and triathlon have a few things in common — running, swimming and the inevitability of being lumped together when people like me are doing sport-by-sport breakdowns.

Aside from that, they aren’t too similar. Triathlon has become the trendy way for people to show how fit they are. If you know anyone who has said, “Hey, I’m raising money for charity by doing a pentathlon,” please let me know.

At the Olympics, modern pentathlon is held in a couple of venues through the day, and they can’t really be choosy. In London, for some reason, they’ll have the fencing in the handball venue. Then it’s across the Olympic Park to the main Aquatics Centre for the swim, then over to the equestrian venue at Greenwich Park for the remaining events. (That wasn’t an option in Beijing, where the equestrian venue was in Hong Kong.)

Beijing triathlon venueThe triathlon, meanwhile, is held in a scenic venue like the one in this picture. Beautiful, isn’t it? One of my favorite days in China.

London organizers are opting to hold the triathlon in Hyde Park. Pretty cool.

Triathlon also is much simpler. Swim 1,500 meters. Bike 40k. Run 10k. Cross finish line. Collect medal.

Modern pentathlon has a more complex scoring system, but as they do in Nordic combined (and really should do in the decathlon), they convert points to seconds and start people in the final race in the order in which they currently stand. Build a big lead in the first three events, then try to run alone.

If that seems like only four events, that’s because pentathlon has indeed been modernized. It’s now a bit like biathlon, which running and shooting combined. Instead of running a penalty loop for misses, athletes simply have to stay at a shooting station until they’ve knocked down all five targets.


The 2011 World Championships have been moved from Egypt to Moscow due to political instability. That’s in September, but we also have results from the 2010 World Championships and regular World Cup performances. The 2011 World Cup will wrap in June in London, using the 2012 Olympic venue of Greenwich Park for the riding, shooting and running.

Men: Russia went 1-2 in the 2010 Worlds, with Serguei Karyakin and Aleksander Lesun. Third place went to neighboring Lithuania’s Justinas Kinderis. Top-ranked Adam Marosi (Hungary) had a rough ride and finished 13th.

2008: Andrey Moiseyev (Russia), Edvinas Krungolcas (Lithuania), Andrejus Zadneprovski (Lithuania)

Projection: Russia, Lithuania, Hungary

Top Americans: Will Brady is ranked 38th.

Women: Not quite as Eastern Euro-centric as the men’s competition. Olympic champion Lena Schoneborn (Germany) is still ranked No. 1. World champion Amelie Caze of France is third. Donata Rimsaite of Russia was second in Worlds and is second in the rankings. Britain has three in the top 15 – Freyja Prentice, Mhairi Spence and 2008 silver medalist Heather Fell.

2008: Lena Schoneborn (Germany), Heather Fell (Britain), Victoria Tereshuk (Ukraine)

Projection: Germany, Britain, France

Top Americans: Margaux Isaksen competed in Beijing at age 16 and has climbed to eighth in the rankings.


Unusual approach to “World Championships” here. Now it’s done as a series rather than a single race. A little less exciting, but perhaps fairer. And given that no one race is substantially bigger than another (the World Championship final race has a few extra ranking points at stake), there’s little reason to use anything other than the men’s and women’s Olympic qualification rankings to do these projections.

Men: Top six in the rankings are Javier Gomez (Spain), Sven Riederer (Switzerland), Jan Frodeno (Germany), Joao Silva (Portugal), Brad Kahlefeldt (Australia), Steffen Justus (Germany). We’ll give Britain an outside chance — Tim Don doesn’t have the full six events needed for a complete ranking (he might be top five if he duplicated one of his better performances), and Alistair Brownlee won the final World Championship race in 2010.

2008: Jan Frodeno (Germany), Simon Whitfield (Canada), Bevan Docherty (New Zealand)

Projection: Spain, Switzerland, Germany

Top Americans: Jarrod Shoemaker is eighth.

Women: This one is a little more confusing because Olympic champion Emma Snowsill only has four qualifying races, including first place at the 2010 World Championship final. That’ll make us a little more confident about an Australian named Emma being on the podium, but we’ll stick with the top three in the rankings — Paula Findlay (Canada), Emma Moffatt (Australia), Helen Jenkins (Britain). Next three: Andrea Hewitt (New Zealand), Nicola Sprig (Switzerland), Laura Bennett (USA).

2008: Emma Snowsill (Australia), Vanessa Fernandes (Portugal), Emma Moffatt (Australia)

Projection: Canada, Australia, Britain

Top Americans: In addition to Bennett, Sarah Groff is 18th, and Sarah Haskins is 24th with only four events.


In modern pentathlon, Hungary and France pick up bronze medals at the expense of Lithuania and Ukraine.

Germany: 1/0/1, -1 gold, +1 bronze
Britain: 0/1/1, +1 bronze
Russia: 1/0/0, unchanged
Spain: 1/0/0, +1 gold
Canada: 1/0/0, +1 gold, -1 silver
Lithuania: 0/1/0, -1 bronze
Switzerland: 0/1/0, +1 silver
Australia: 0/1/0, -1 gold, +1 silver, -1 bronze
Hungary: 0/0/1, +1 bronze
France: 0/0/1, +1 bronze
Ukraine: 0/0/0, -1 bronze
New Zealand: 0/0/0, -1 bronze
Portugal: 0/0/0, -1 silver

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