Greatest Athlete Pentathlon

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The Greatest Athlete Pentathlon is a mult-sport event and idea created by Dhamma Wiki founder Dr. David N. Snyder. The idea was created and published in year 2012.

A pentathlon is a contest featuring 5 different events. The first pentathlon was contested at the Ancient Olympics in Greece and consisted of the 5 events of long jump, javelin throw, discus throw, a sprint race, and wrestling. Pentathletes were considered to be among the most skilled athletes, and their training was often part of military training; each of the five events in the pentathlon was thought to be useful in war or battle.

With the revival of the Olympic Games in the modern era, the pentathlon returned in a different format. The modern pentathlon, invented by Pierre de Coubertin (father of the Modern Olympics), was a variation on the military aspect of the Ancient pentathlon. It focused on the skills required by a late 19th century soldier, with competitions in shooting, swimming, fencing, equestrianism, and cross country running.

The current decathlon of the Olympics has sometimes been called a good overall test to find the greatest athlete, but it focuses too much on track and field events, especially field events and short sprints. The Ironman Triathlon of long distance swimming, cycling, and running only tests endurance and no strength or other sport skills. The modern pentathlon is a good improvement, but it is also out-dated now with events such as equestrian and fencing. No soldier today uses those skills and it is not a good test of overall sports performance.

This new and updated version of the pentathlon could be called the Greatest Athlete Pentathlon since this multi-sport competition truly tests overall sport and fitness skills of both upper and lower body and of both physical and mental sport qualities. Or it could be called the ER Pentathlon. The ER is for emergency responders since the events include skills required of the modern 21st century soldier and also the police and fire emergency responders.

The 5 sports of the Pentathlon

  • 1. Weightlifting (the ultimate strength skills test, especially of the upper body)
  • 2. Stairclimbing (up a skyscraper, skills required especially of police and fire responders and requires much lower body / leg strength and endurance)
  • 3. Pistol shooting
  • 4. Chess (the skills of a general or police chief, analyzing, decision making skills)
  • 5. 3000 meter steeplechase running (simulates cross country running and tests endurance)

The above 5 events simulate the overall skills needed of the modern, 21st century soldier and police and fire emergency responders. In addition, it provides the skills and abilities tested so that the champion of this contest can be considered the best overall athlete. The weightlifting event tests physical strength, the stairclimbing event tests sprint, middle-distance and endurance skills, the pistol and chess events test mental fitness, and the steeplechase running event tests middle distance running, hurdling, and endurance. In other combined contests there is typically only a test of endurance (such as the Ironman triathlon) or of strength events (decathlon), but in this Greatest Athlete Pentathlon, the winner would truly be the greatest overall athlete, taking into account strength, endurance, and even mental fitness.

Strengths and skills tested

  • Endurance (3000 meter steeplechase run, Stairclimbing)
  • Sprint and middle distance (Stairclimbing)
  • Mental/intelligence (chess)
  • Concentration (Pistol shooting, chess)
  • Muscular strength in upper body (Weightlifting)
  • Muscular strength in lower body (stairclimbing, 3000 meter steeplechase)


Weightlifting – clean-and-jerk lifting (floor to above the head) or bench press (athlete’s choice). Points are determined as follows:

Weight in kg (or lbs.) lifted divided by athlete’s body weight times 500

(A champion weightlifter who lifts nearly 3 times his body weight would score close to 1500 points.) A world-class Greatest Athlete Pentathlete would probably score about 1000 points on this and the other events.

Stairclimbing – Approximately 1500 steps up a skyscraper (different venues may have a few hundred stairs plus or minus from this figure). Points are determined as follows:

Course record time divided by athlete’s time, times 1200

Pistol shooting – 25 meter pistol shooting, maximum score 600. Points are the shooting score times 2.

Chess – 5 games of D-Chess against a chess computer at ‘intermediate level’ (approx. 1500 elo rating) and 25 minutes per game time control; where the pieces in the back rows are displaced so that an athlete cannot memorize opening moves or common moves of the computer program. Points are determined as follows:

Number of wins (draws count as half) times 300

3000 meter steeplechase – the current track event which consists of hurdles and water jumps to simulate cross country running. The winner of this final event is the winner of the Greatest Athlete Pentathlon. The starting distance is determined by the total points in the previous 4 events. In this way, there is an exciting finish as the one crossing the finish line first is the champion. Start distance determined by:

4000 points = running distance of 3000 meters for the standard steeplechase. For those scoring less than 4000 points: for every point under 4000 = one additional meter to run. For those scoring over 4000 points: for every point over 4000 = one less meter to run.

For example, 3600 points = 400 additional meters = 3400 meter steeplechase

Another example, 4500 points = 500 fewer meters = 2500 meter steeplechase

Another great advantage to this Greatest Athlete Pentathlon is that all events including the final running event have specific scores and times that can be compared across competitions, allowing for World Records to be set. This is because the events are not pitted with one athlete against another as in fencing or other sports which cannot be compared across different years or competitions when the athletes change.

The chess event is against a computer program not against other athletes, so there is a set score or performance there that can be measured. And even the stairclimbing event which might use a different building can still be compared against a performance at a different venue since the points are based on how well the athlete does compared to the course record.

See also