The modern pentathlon was created by the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who, according to Wikipedia, modeled it to simulate the experience of a 19th century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines — he must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with a pistol and sword, swim, and run." It's popularity, such as it is, is pretty much confined to Europe.
So there you have it: No popularity, no TV appeal, no modern relevance whatsoever, nothing. What it does have is friends in the right places. According to an ESPN report, the modern pentathlon's survival benefited from the lobbying of Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the son of the former IOC president who is a member of the IOC board and vice president of the modern pentathlon federation.
Translation: It was a political decision.
The wrestling federation (FILA) is represented in 180 countries, with 344 wrestlers competing in London and 29 countries winning medals. Along with track, wrestling is one of the world's pure sports, pitting man against man.
But it's not telegenic and that's what matters. The modernized modern Olympics are trying to be hip. What next, an Olympic reality TV show, hosted by Ryan Seacrest? Audience participation, with TV viewers deciding the winners via texting? An American idol Olympic tryout?
The possibilities are endless.
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