Modern Pentathlon Preview

The U.S. Olympic modern pentathlon team for the Tokyo Games will include a pair of first-time Olympians but ones with their share of international experience. Amro Elgeziry and Samantha Schultz also come from the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, and both rank as sergeants in the military.

Invented by the Baron Pierre de Coubertin, creator of the modern Olympic Games, modern pentathlon honors the competition that was once the climax of the ancient Olympic Games in Greece. The sport is a classic contest played out in five events: fencing, swimming, equestrian jumping, and a combined shooting and running event — with all events taking place on the same day. The sport was initially contested only by military officers and was meant to reflect the skills an officer needed to possess to be successful in combat. The sport has been contested in every Olympic Games since 1912. Modern pentathlon in Tokyo will include both men’s and women’s competitions.


Competition begins with a fencing (epee) qualifying round. The following day, athletes compete in four events. The first event is a 200-meter swimming race. Then competitors go back to fencing, in which all bouts are for one decisive hit in one minute. Athletes must fence with every other competitor. Fencing is followed by riding, which is a 12-obstacle jumping competition in which competitors are assigned an unfamiliar horse at random.


For the final phase, the combined running and shooting event, athletes start based on the handicap assigned from the previous events. This phase consists of four 800-meter sections, each prefaced by a laser shoot in which athletes must hit five targets before they can start the next lap. The first across the finish line at the end of the final lap is the overall winner.


Updated on June 18, 2021. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

• The U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) allows athletes to compete in their sport with the goal of making the Olympic or Paralympic Games while also continuing to serve their country. The program has consistently delivered modern pentathlon athletes to the Games, such as Nathan Schrimsher in Rio.

• The U.S. has earned nine pentathlon medals in the history of the sport at the Olympic Games — six silver and three bronze medals. Emily de Riel earned a silver medal for Team USA at the 2000 Games, and the team hopes to break the drought after a near-miss at London 2012. Team USA has never won an Olympic gold medal in modern pentathlon.

• Sgt. Amro Elgeziry, 34, is the reigning men’s national champion and has finished in the top-10 numerous times in world cup competitions. Elgeziry is married to 2016 Olympian Isabella Isaksen, who also competes in pentathlon and won the gold medal with her husband in mixed relay at the 2019 Pan American Games. The Tokyo Games will be the first for Elgeziry with Team USA, but he competed in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games for his native Egypt. Pentathlon runs in Elgeziry’s family, as brother Emad competed for Egypt in the 2000 Olympic Games, and brother Omar is a 2016 Olympian and coached for Team USA at the 2019 Pan American Games.

• Sgt. Samantha Schultz, 29, is a seven-time national champion who has competed extensively around the world in pentathlon world cups and world championships. An alternate on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, Schultz (nee Achterberg) won the gold medal in relay at the 2019 Pan American Games and silver in individual.

• August 5, 2021: The Olympic competition gets underway with the women’s and men’s fencing ranking round
• August 6, 2021: Women’s swimming, fencing bonus round, riding show jumping and laser run
• August 7, 2021: Men’s swimming, fencing bonus round, riding show jumping and laser run