Host City: Helsinki, Finland
Venue(s): Ahvenisto Administrative Building, Hämeenlinna; Ahvenisto Outdoor Swimming Pool, Hämeenlinna; Ahvenisto Ridge, Hämeenlinna
Date Started: July 21, 1952
Date Finished: July 25, 1952
Format: Point-for-place scoring. Team scores totalled from individual scores. Three-man teams with all scores counting. Ordinals adjusted to include only team competitors, and only those teams finishing the complete event.
This was the first Olympic team event. Scoring in the team event was conducted by adding up the scores of the nation’s three competitors. But it was not a simple matter of using the point-for-place scores from the individual competition. For the team competition, ordinal scores were counted only for the athletes counting in the team competition. Further, if a team had an athlete not finish, thereby disqualifying the team, that team’s placements were thrown out and the previous phases were re-scored. It made it very difficult to follow the event in 1952.
The two favorites were Sweden and Finland. Sweden had been World Team Champion in 1949-51, with Finland second every year. The Helsinki team event came down to Sweden against Hungary, however. Finland would place third but never had the lead and was not close to overtaking either of the two leaders. Sweden took the lead after the opening riding phase and maintained it after the fencing. But Hungary shot strongly and moved ahead after the third phase. Sweden had better swimmers, led by individual gold medalist Lars Hall, and won that phase, but Hungary still held a narrow lead – 128-131 – going into the run. In the cross-country run, Hungary pulled away from Sweden to win the gold medal. This would be the first of many gold medals for Hungary in modern pentathlon.