No dream of Walter Mitty's is more replete with hazard than the real-life sporting event known as the Modern Pentathlon, an athletic ordeal comprising five consecutive days of riding, fencing, shooting, swimming and running. Last week the pentathlon world championships in Hershey, Pa. attracted teams from 13 countries to contest the title of the Soviet Union's redoubtable two time world champion, Igor Novikov. During the five torturous days of competition few contenders emerged unscathed, but Novikov proved as indestructible as his reputation. The riding event started with a series of Chilling spills in which the three competing Germans, all policemen from Berlin, were painfully injured. Novikov's teammate Nicolai Tatarinov sprained his shoulder when his horse somersaulted over the final fence, but continued on to put his team first.
During the next day's fencing Champion Novikov himself, having fallen behind in the riding because "I drew a dead horse" made up for lost points in 15 hours of rugged épée battle.
During the shooting it began once more to look as though the big Russian might not be invincible after all—his gun misfired and his score was average. But Novikov, the invincible, pulled close to first place once more in the swimming. On the last day he ran the 4,000-meter course in an incredible 13:56 and galloped across country on a pulled tendon in the best Walter Mitty style to rack up the world's pentathlon championship to the greater glory of Soviet Russia for the third time in a row.
Recovering from fall, West Germany's Police Corporal Hubertus Fronia watches officials try to revive horse who was too exhausted to continue.
October 11, 1959
Relaxing on the sidelines, Soviet Union's Igor Novikov, wearing green-and-yellow robe and red hat, studies other fencers. Novikov, a swordsman who takes few chances, won event.
Collapsing at finish of track event, Argentina's Lieut. Louis Riera falls to ground as Great Britain's Sergeant Don Cobley, who started minute later, crosses the finish line.
Persevering to final fence, Soviet Union's Nikolai Tatarinov spills just short of finish. He remounted and completed course with sprained shoulder.