Reference : William Penny Brookes – the Founding Father of the Modern Pentathlon?
Scientific journals : Article
Arts & humanities : History
William Penny Brookes – the Founding Father of the Modern Pentathlon?
Heck, Sandra mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Education, Culture, Cognition and Society (ECCS) >]
Sport in History
United Kingdom
[en] Brookes ; Coubertin ; Wenlock Games ; Olympic ; modern pentathlon ; IOC
[en] For a long time William Penny Brookes’ influence on the re-establishment of the Olympic Games has been neglected thanks to a focus on Pierre de Coubertin’s creative force. Meanwhile Brookes’ general work for the Olympic movement has been officially acknowledged by the IOC. However, the British origins have not been proved yet for the modern pentathlon, which is – just like the Olympics – widely presented to be Coubertin’s child. The two sport officials had been in touch since the 1890s and while the Olympic Games did not include the modern pentathlon before 1912, a pentathlon was organised as early as 1868 on the occasion of the Wenlock Games. This combined event did not have the same shape as the later modern pentathlon, but the ideological similarities are as obvious as Brookes’ general impact on Coubertin. By analysing historical documents located in the IOC Archives in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Archives of the Wenlock Olympian Society in Much Wenlock, UK, and the National Archives of Sweden in Stockholm, this study aims to trace to what extent Brookes and the Much Wenlock Games impacted upon the birth of the modern pentathlon. Thus, the study reinterprets the genesis of a 100-year-old Olympic sport that has, until today, been exclusively dedicated to Coubertin.

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