Invented by the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, specifically for the Games, Modern Pentathlon is considered to be the ultimate test of an athlete's all-round sporting ability.
Involving the disciplines of shooting, fencing, swimming, horse riding and running, the sport was originally devised to simulate the talents a cavalryman would need if he was stuck behind enemy lines.
It has undergone a great deal of evolution since its first appearance at Stockholm 1912. The five events used to be spread over five days, but its current one-day format means that it is now much more spectator-friendly.
Other changes have seen the air pistol replaced with a laser pistol, while the shooting and running events have now been adapted into a combined event and appear in this format for the first time at London 2012.
Modern Pentathlon sees athletes gain points for their performances in each discipline.
The competition starts with a round-robin epee fencing tournament where all 36 competitors battle against each other, with a single touch deciding each bout.
Athletes then swim a 200 metres freestyle race before contesting a 12-obstacle showjumping round, with each competitor drawing lots for their horse and being allowed to spend 20 minutes with the animal before they compete.
The event then finishes with a combined run and shoot, with athletes starting at staggered intervals based on the points they have accrued, so that the leader of the competition overall sets off first.
Each athlete must then complete a 3,000m run around a series of laps, stopping at the shooting range on three occasions where they must hit a target five times before they can move on.
The first person to cross the finish line is declared the overall winner.
The Europeans have traditionally dominated Modern Pentathlon, with Lena Schoneborn of Germany particularly impressive in winning the women's competition at Beijing 2008.
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