The club saw the highest score in its history at last year's BUCS Cambridge university modern pentathlon club

Running, swimming, showjumping, air pistol shooting and fencing: at first glance, the five disciplines of modern pentathlon might seem a little surprising. The event, though, is inspired by the traditional pentathlon held during the ancient Olympics, in which five events were contested over one day - a short foot race, a javelin throw, a discus throw, long jump and wrestling, events which were designed to replicate the skills needed in battle.

Anna Gibbons, President of the Cambridge University Modern pentathlon club, is keen to stress the benefits of getting involved in this multi-faceted sport at Cambridge: “It is a great way to try something new, stay fit and meet lots of new people in the meantime.” Indeed, the great variety in the sport means that there should be something for everyone: as Gibbons points out: “We train across all five disciplines. We swim three times per week, with one session coached by a former Olympic athlete! For fencing, we fence with the City Club and run our own session too.

“The club ensures that beginners have plenty of opportunities to get stuck in and experience the sport”

“Shooting is done with laser pistols so they are totally safe - we shoot static once per week, and then practice ‘combined’ once per week. In terms of running, we have just linked up with Cambridge University Triathlon Club to do a joint interval session. We also attend Milton park run, and fit in a steady long run in our own time. Riding is done at a stables twenty minutes outside Cambridge, lessons are subsidised depending on athlete ability; most aim to ride around once per week. This year we are also introducing a circuit/core session too.”

The club has, in fact, enjoyed great success in recent years, not only achieving its highest ever score in the club’s history in last year’s BUCS, but also convincingly winning last year’s men’s Varsity and losing women’s Varsity by just 0.12%. Gibbons also points out that “on an individual level, we have a couple of individuals capable of competing at a national level, as they have fielded strong performances at the recent National Championships.”


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Participation in modern pentathlon also offers a path to the promised land of winning a full blue. As a discretionary full blue sport, full and half blues are awarded dependent on performance in the Varsity Match, with women, for example, required to score 4,400 points for a Full Blue and 3,300 points for a Half Blue out of an optimum 5,000 points.

Despite the high standards reached by their most experienced athletes, the club also ensures that beginners have plenty of opportunities to get stuck in and experience the sport, holding a range of relaxed tournaments throughout the year including relaxed Winter and Summer Cuppers tournaments, as well as a Novice Varsity match in Michaelmas term.

So, if you fancy the chance to fence, swim, ride a horse, run and shoot all in the same sport, get yourself down to the Cambridge University Modern Pentathlon Club.

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