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Modern Pentathlon cut from five events to four

Nov. 25, 2008, 9:58 a.m. (ET)

MONTE CARLO, Monaco(AP) Modern pentathlon has been cut from five events to four in a bid to boost the sport's popularity and keep it on the Olympic program.

The International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) voted to combine pistol shooting and running into one discipline to create a shorter and more dynamic event.

Klaus Schormann, president of the UIPM, described the recent decision at the federation's annual congress in Guatemala as “one of the biggest in the history of modern pentathlon.”

He said he hoped the new format, which takes effect on Jan. 1, would strengthen the sport's position in the Olympics.

Modern pentathlon has been criticized in recent years as lacking true international appeal and being dominated by athletes from eastern Europe.

It has featured in the Olympics since 1912 after being designed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern games, to test an ideal soldier's skills.

Competitors must shoot an air pistol, fence, swim for 200 meters (yards), ride a horse that is unknown to them over a showjumping course and run 3,000 meters.

Shooting and running will now be combined in a fourth and final discipline. The starting order of the final event is determined by the points accumulated after the first three, so that the leading competitors get a head start. The overall winner is the first to cross the finishing line.

The Monaco-based UIPM has previously changed the sport to make it more attractive to spectators and television viewers.

For the 1996 Atlanta Games, when only men took part, the competition was cut from four or five days to a one-day contest. Women have competed since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

At this year's Beijing Olympics, the gold medals were won by Andrey Moiseev of Russia and Germany's Lena Schoeneborn.