Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Merrett Rifle Range, Williamstown, Victoria; Oaklands Hunt Club, Broadmeadows, Victoria; Olympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria; Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: November 23, 1956
Date Finished: November 28, 1956
Format: Scoring by point tables. Team scores totalled from adjusted individual scores. Scores adjusted in the fencing competition. Three-man scores with all scores counting.
Hungary had won the 1952 Olympic team title and the 1954 and 1955 World Championships. But the inequities of modern pentathlon showed in the first phase, the steeplechase riding. Horses are assigned by random draw, and Hungary got the raw deal. They were effectively out of the medal chase after the riding section, which also saw the elimination of Sweden when Björn Thofelt did not finish the steeplechase. The United States took a huge riding lead, as George Lambert and Jack Daniels finished first and second individually. The US led after the first four phases, with the Soviet Union moving into second after the fencing, and staying there thru the fourth phase, the freestyle swimming. But in the cross-country run, the Soviets had the best performance and pulled ahead to win the gold medal. The US placed only fifth as a team in the running, but held on for the silver medal. Finland won the bronze led by Olavi Mannonen and Väinö Korhonen, who won the silver and bronze medals individually, respectively. Hungary pulled back strongly after their riding problems, eventually placing fourth.