It is a couple of years since we had the last Olympics and there are still two more until the next beanfeast in Brazil, After that we have to wait for Tokyo and 2020.

The Olympic Games in Brazil promise to be particularly shambolic. The country is basically bankrupt after the Football World Cup and well over half the stadiums and facilities are so far behind schedule that it will take a miracle or a massive bail out for things to happen!

Just to bring you up to speed, the sailing is being hampered by “Excessively high levels of sewage” in the seas. The ability to get around Rio is dependent on a metro system being finished on time – highly doubtful. And everything is also reliant on the IOC coughing up television money well ahead of the games in order to fund various building projects.

But Tokyo in 2020, now that should be marvellous; especially if we bring in some more modern and relevant activities. In particular I am talking about the Modern Pentathlon. Currently there is absolutely nothing modern about it. It is rooted firmly in the 19th century and is meant to represent the challenges facing a soldier lost behind enemy lines having to fight his way back to his own side. That is why he rides a strange horse, fights everyone with a sword, swims, shoots and finally runs to the finishing line.

Now is the time to bring things right up to date and really get the crowds behind the events involved. The Japanese are already up for all kinds of tortuous competitions as any TV viewer will tell you. Just think of all the game shows they have that involve pain and humiliation. So let’s take that challenge up and do things in a proper 21st century Japanese Pentathlon.

The same overall objective applies, each contestant has to make their way back home, but the skills and dangers need to be much more relevant. Riding should involve mountain biking rather than horses, and if you really want there to be a range of bikes chosen by lottery then that is even better. I don’t think that tricycles should be included, but you could have BMX bikes as well as the out and out downhill machines, just to add a little spice to things.

Contestants would be required to steal their bikes and then navigate their way down an urban landscape involving chain link fences, trash cans and various ramps and ski jumps so as to give us some great aerial shots. And rather than letting them race against the clock they should be made to race in groups of six or so with no holds barred. In fact dirty tricks should be encouraged purely to get greater audience attention.

The top two from each heat would then go on to the next stage, with the final being run at night with all kinds of pyrotechnics to liven things up visually. For TV viewers there will be a selection of chase music from various cop shows to accompany the action. All this with the aim of grabbing extra viewing figures so that sponsors can be charged even more for the privilege of flogging us fattening foods and sugary drinks!


Sword fighting is silly and so old hat, but knife fighting works. Contestants would be allowed some protective clothing though, as otherwise the number of contestants could be cut down pretty quickly. Once again there may have to be restrictions on the size and style of knife, and there should be added marks for flair and showmanship as they try to disable their opponents.

The marksmanship also needs to get more realistic, and although Health and Safety won’t allow us to simply shoot the weaker competitors, we do need to bring in a rougher, tougher environment. The simplest option is to have the target shooting but introduce opponents who try and attack you as you fire. I am sure that the Taekwondo enthusiasts would be extremely interested in this option so do keep your ears and eyes open for this in the future!


Swimming also needs to have a little more excitement added. We already have clues as to how it could go if you look at the triathlon and open water swimming. Those already have rules that address the rougher side of sports. For example referees watch out for competitors swimming over each other, so there is precedent for this style of competition. If we also bring in some natural problems such as jellyfish and shallow water with old oil drums in the way then I am sure that we can get some pretty exciting action shots along the route! The suggestion that we add sharks is perhaps a little over the top, but I am open to ideas.

shark attack

And finally we come to the running. A combination of free running with walls and drops and seemingly impossible gaps to get over will set the scene, but just to add an extra twist there will be chasers too. Should you get caught by the chaser, then you are automatically eliminated. As in the current modern pentathlon the contestants draw for which set of chasers they get.

So there you have it – a Proper Pentathlon for the 21st Century, please send any royalties to me in a plain brown envelope!