Five things to watch out for in a hectic and historic 2024
As a follow-up to the recent review of 2023 - Five things we learned from an action-packed season - we now take a look at the year ahead of us, with five potential highlights of what promises to be another thrilling and inspiring year in Modern Pentathlon.
1. Qualification dreams and drama on the schedule
The 2024 season gets going earlier than usual with a UIPM Pentathlon Challenger event jumping out of the diary in just a couple of weeks’ time: January 23-27, in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.
The early start is necessary because the first half of 2024 is going to be packed with action, with the race to Paris taking centre stage. While 44 direct qualification quota spots have already been claimed for this summer’s Olympic Games, 28 priceless places remain up for grabs, 14 each for men and women.
Up to six automatic places will be up for grabs during the UIPM 2024 Pentathlon World Championships in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou in June, with Olympic Pentathlon World Ranking points determining most of the other qualifiers across the UIPM 2024 Pentathlon World Cup season (with stops in Egypt, Türkiye, Hungary, Bulgaria and a Final back in Türkiye).
While dozens of the biggest names in Pentathlon have already booked quota places for the greatest show on earth, there are still many more entering the new year focused on the unattained prize. The next six months are sure to be unmissable.
2. Tackling the Obstacle second time around
The year 2023 handed the next generation of pentathletes the honour of getting to grips with the new Obstacle discipline first, with the UIPM Junior, U19 and U17 World Championships all featuring the new sequence of Fencing/Obstacle/Swimming/Laser Run.
While that led to much excitement and some exhilarating action, in 2024 those athletes will be a year further into their Obstacle journeys and we can expect to see significant improvements in performances across the various Obstacle challenges with training and facilities becoming more embedded worldwide.
The UIPM 2024 Junior World Championships take place in Alexandria (EGY) from June 24-30 and the UIPM 2024 U17 World Championships will be held in Caldas da Reina (POR) on September 9-15, with the U19s gathering later in the month in Druskininkai (LTU) from September 23-29. Dates for the diary.
3. A palace party for our Olympians in Paris
A majestic residence of past French kings and queens, the Palace of Versailles is so steeped in history that it attracts over 15 million visitors even in a quiet year. But 2024 promises to be nothing of the sort.
The wider Versailles region will host a total of six sports during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and its Palace Gardens will be the stunning venue for the Modern Pentathlon event which runs from August 8-11.
The 36 women and 36 men who make it to Paris will have already achieved one dream while knowing that another — an Olympic medal — is now within touching distance. One thing is for sure: there will be enough talking points to fill the golden halls of Versailles.
Can Joseph Choong of Great Britain defend the Olympic gold he forged in Tokyo? Is it the turn of Egypt or Korea to top the podium? Will we see the iconic Italians prevail among a deep pool of women’s contenders? Can one of France’s home favourites, like Elodie Clouvel or Valentin Prades, find a way to the podium?
Whatever happens, Versailles will provide the perfect backdrop for two Olympic coronations.
4. Road to Los Angeles opens to traffic
It may feel premature to start weighing up subsequent Olympics before this year’s Games has even happened, but such is the pace of evolution and anticipation in elite sports.
Given what awaits Modern Pentathlon in Los Angeles it is even more justifiable to look a little further ahead. Once the curtain comes down on Paris in early August, the sport’s new era will officially launch. The new Obstacle discipline will finally be integrated at every level and the prospect of elite senior pentathletes getting to grips with the new challenges it poses is truly tantalising.
The new format of Fencing, Obstacle, Swimming and Laser Run gives Modern Pentathlon the potential to become one of the most exciting, accessible and popular sports in the Olympic movement with Los Angeles a fitting venue for its Olympic debut. Obstacle is inspired by the popular TV phenomenon, Ninja Warrior, and LA is where the wildly popular American edition of the show is filmed.
5. Key decisions on the agenda as Congress heads to Saudi Arabia
If 2023 saw major progress across the Asian confederation and particularly in the Middle East, this trend is about to be extended in 2024.
With UIPM’s flagship competition already heading to Zhengzhou (CHN), the recent growth in interest, participation and investment in UIPM Sports in the Middle East will continue with the awarding of UIPM Congress to the region for the first time.
The elective UIPM 2024 Congress will take place on November 16-17 as Riyadh hosts the 73rd edition of UIPM’s global decision-making summit for the first time. And there are sure to be some groundbreaking points on the agenda for the General Assembly to consider.