Modern pentathlon was introduced as a new sport with the resurgence of the modern Olympics in the early 1900s. Pierre de Coubertin (the founder of the modern Olympics) originated pentathlon to mirror the ancient Greek pentathlon, which consisted of running, javelin, discus, long jump, and wrestling. The events chosen for modern pentathlon represent the diverse attributes of a Napoleonic officer, including:
Modern pentathlon is five sports combined into four events, competed in the span of one day.
Athletes move from one event to the next with a short break between. Pentathletes accumulate points in each event; the athlete with the most points at the end of the day wins.
Over the years, Modern Pentathlon has had to evolve and change. In response to requests for safe and sustainable shooting, the combined running and shooting Laser Run was developed in 2011. The decision to make this change was passed through the UIPM Congress by a single vote. Today it would be unimaginable to have a competition without it.
In 2021, 81% of National Pentathlon Federations, supported the UIPM decision to submit a competition format for the 2028 Olympic Games without riding. This was in response to ongoing welfare and safety concerns around the riding event and the IOC requirement to broaden the appeal of the sport by lowering the cost and increasing accessibility to appeal to young people and the general public. The new 5th discipline will be decided at the UIPM National Congress in November 2022. Horse riding remains in Canadian and International competitions through to the 2024 Olympic Games.