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General George S. Patton’s modern pentathlon legacy

George S. Patton
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General George S. Patton’s modern pentathlon legacy

George S. Patton finished fifth in the modern pentathlon competition at the 1912 Olympics

General George S. Patton is best known for his aggressive and decisive campaigns against the German Nazi forces during World War II.

But before the outspoken general earned the nickname “Old Blood and Guts,” he was a modern pentathlete.

“He’s probably one of the top pentathletes in U.S. pentathlon history,” said Nathan Schrimsher, a 2016 Olympian.

Patton represented the United States at the 1912 Games, as the sport made its Olympic debut. Patton, then a 26-year-old lieutenant, finished fifth.

There was controversy, however. He received his lowest score in the shooting event, after the judges ruled that one of his shots missed its target entirely. But according to Patton’s official website, he believed that the “missing” bullet had actually passed through the same hole as one of his earlier rounds. 

He did not get another opportunity on the Olympic stage, as the 1916 Games were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War I. 

Schrimsher, a member of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, is well versed in the history of modern pentathlon. 

“If I finish in fourth or hopefully medal at the Olympics,” Schrimsher said, “then I could say I beat Lieutenant Patton.” 

Modern Pentathlon 101: Olympic history

100 years of modern pentathlon history, from its Olympic debut in 1912 to the 2012 London Olympics.   

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