The modern pentathlon will send women swimming, fencing, riding, shooting and running tomorrow. Men competed today. Olympic debuts this year: laser pistols and the merging of the running and shooting events.
The sport's format changed in 2009. In an effort to spice things up, the rules have been tweaked to unite the running and shooting into one event, sort of like the biathlon in the Winter Olympics. Which brings up the question, "If you need the biathlon to explain your event, how are things going?" Which brings up the answer: laser guns! Their guns shoot lasers! The modern pentathlon is positively sci-fi.
To be fair, the laser guns weren't an attempt to make the event exciting so much as an attempt to expand the reach of the sport to younger participants. But still, laser guns.
As the London 2012 website puts it, the biathlon-style event should make for "an exciting and unpredictable finale."
Here's a guide to some of the competitors:
Donna Vakalis, Canada
Enjoys alternative comedy and green building technologies, according to the official London 2012 site. She stands at 500/1 odds and also is the only participant who may miss a shot because she was thinking of a funny Patton Oswalt joke.
Yihua Miao, China
This 80/1 shot's nickname is Kingfisher's Feather Flow.
Lena Schoneborn, Germany
Mhairi Spence Great Britain
She fences, so they call her "Fencey Spencey." If her name were Mhairi Porter-Wolo they'd call her — actually, still Fencey Spencey. It's just a solid nickname. Odds 5/1.
Laura Asadauskaite, Lithuania
Suzanne Stettinius, USA
500/1 odds. This Parkton, Md., resident drives a 1995 red Toyota Tacoma, according to an interview for the Team USA website. Mileage unknown.
Margaux Isaksen, USA
She's nicknamed "Gar Moe the Great," (inverse of Margaux, get it?). This 21-year-old is sponsored by the Fayetteville Fire Department. You may wonder how much of that $1,000 donation was eaten up buying an oversized novelty check. At 50/1, she's a rising pentathlon star.
The London 2012 website has a full list of the competitors. The International Olympic Committee has a preview video for the events.
Support the news
More NPR or Explore Audio.