One of the lesser known features of the life of General George S. Patton, is that he was an Olympian. Always an athlete, Patton was stationed at Fort Myer, Virginia. Early in 1912, Patton learned that he was being considered to be the Army’s representative in the Modern Pentathlon at the Olympics being held in Stockholm that summer. Patton had almost no time to train, but he consented to participate.
In Sweden, Patton scored as follows: out of the 37 contestants he placed seventh in the 300 meter freestyle swimming; fourth out of 29 participants in fencing; he placed sixth in the equestrian steeple chase; in the four kilometre cross-country footrace he placed third out of fifteen; in pistol shooting he finished 20th out of 32 contestants.
Overall he finished in fifth place, a very good performance considering he had almost no training time. Patton thoroughly enjoyed the Olympics and made the following comment:
The high spirit of sportsmanship and generosity manifested throughout speaks volumes for the character of the officers of the present day. There was not a single incident of a protest or any unsportsmanlike quibbling or fighting for points which I may say, marred some of the other civilian competitions at the Olympic Games. Each man did his best and took what fortune sent them like a true soldier, and at the end we all felt more like good friends and comrades than rivals in a severe competition, yet this spirit of friendship in no manner detracted from the zeal with which all strove for success.
Patton qualified for the Modern Pentathlon for the planned 1916 Olympics in Berlin, but World War I caused the cancellation of the 1916 Olympics, and Patton’s career as an Olympic athlete was at an end.