From Academic Kids

The pentathlon (as opposed to the modern pentathlon) was an athletics event in the Olympic Games and other Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece.

The name derives from Greek words for "five competitions." The five events were stadion (a short foot race), wrestling, which were also held as separate events, and the long jump, javelin throw and discus throw, which were not held as separate events then. Pentathletes were considered to be among the most skilled athletes, and their training was often part of military service - each of the five events was thought to be useful in battle.

The winner of the stadion was considered the champion of the entire Games, and was often the only name remembered in connection with a particular Games, especially during the earliest period. If the same man won the long jump, discus throw, and javelin throw, there was no need hold the stadion and wrestling events, although they would still be held separately. Wrestling was held in a sand pit, at the Olympic Games outside the Temple of Zeus, while the other events were all held in the stadion (or stadium) from which the name of the race was taken. Wrestling and the discus throw had essentially the same rules as their modern versions (although the actual technique used by the athletes might have been a bit different), but the others had slight differences. The javelin throw used a leather strap, rather than having the athlete grip the shaft of the javelin itself (this probably made the javelin travel farther than a modern javelin does). The stadion was a sprint of very nearly 200 yards (or about 180 meters), longer than the modern 100 meter sprint, but shorter than all other ancient running events.

The long jump is perhaps the most unusual, compared to the modern version. A long jumper used weights called halteres to propel himself farther, and his jump probably consisted of three separate leaps, more like the modern triple jump; otherwise, distances of known jumps (which are often as far as 50 feet) would seem to be impossible.

Competitors in the javelin and discus throws were given five throws each, and only their farthest throw would count. It is possible that the long jump was also done five times.

The tradition of the classical games was that all of these events were performed naked.

In the modern Olympics, a men's track and field Pentathlon was held in 1912, 1920 and 1924. This was won in 1912 by Jim Thorpe of the USA and in 1920 and 1924 by Eero Reino Lehtonen of Finland. After Thorpe was stripped of his gold medal for breaking the infamous amateur rule, the 1912 gold was awarded to Norway's Ferdinand Reinhardt Bie, who is now officially listed as a joint winner with Thorpe, who was reinstated in the 1980s, in the IOC's records.

For women, there was a women's pentathlon held from 1964 until 1980, and it was replaced by a heptathlon in et:Pentatlon


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