There is no more varied test of athletic ability than the modern pentathlon. Devised in 1912 for the Olympic Games at Stockholm, the event requires competitors to demonstrate five skills that might be required of a military courier in the field. The competitor must ride a horse, drawn by lot, over an unfamiliar course (right), run, fence, swim and shoot. Shown on these pages are hopeful members of the U.S. team training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
Versatility is a prerequisite for the pentathlete. Speed and endurance are required for the 300-meter freestyle swim, while a steady hand is needed to fire 20 rounds at a turning target 25 meters away.
Perseverance is a must for the rugged, 4,000-meter cross-country run, while one-touch epee bouts, in which the pentathlete must fence everyone, demand durability of a D'Artagnan.