November 26, 2008
You Get Two Guesses
Does this abstract come from The Onion or The New York Times?
Modern pentathlon has been cut from five events to four in a bid to boost its popularity and stay in the Olympics, combining shooting and running into a single event.
Nope, not satire: thing’s really happening. And the fourth/fifth event, the shoot and run, sounds awesome:
Athletes will have 70 seconds to shoot five targets, loading the gun after each shot. The best can do that in about 30 seconds. Misses will not count, but will cost valuable time. After five completed targets or 70 seconds, whether all the targets were hit or not, athletes will run one kilometer, or about 0.62 miles, returning to the shooting range.
They will complete that cycle three times, running across the finish line to end the competition.
Those who were good at shooting may not be so good when out of breath. Those who excelled at the running portion may lose their advantage by the start-and-stop addition of the shooting. Some athletes will change guns, because loading quickly is suddenly critical.
It sounds a little like my favorite event from the Winter Olympics, the biathalon, which combines target shooting with cross-country skiing. But if there is really a demand for a shoot-and-run event, shouldn’t that be its own thing? Like, um, the biathalon? It’s strange to invent a new olympic activity for a multi-event sport.