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UIPM Secretary General’s Message: Reflections on a great start to the 2023 season

UIPM Family

After a long off-season, Modern Pentathlon has bounced back with a bang in 2023!

Our global season-opener in Egypt has become a popular staple and UIPM 2023 Pentathlon World Cup Cairo lived up to its reputation, with athletes providing a thrilling start to the Paris 2024 Olympic qualification pathway.

Not only did Cairo shine in the reflected glory of high performance levels from athletes, there was also a professional sheen across event organisation, with high promotional impact inside the hosting country, not to mention international interactions.

When you look at UIPM’s online outreach, we may not have outstanding numbers compared with some other Olympic sports. But Modern Pentathlon is starting to climb the mountain, with encouraging signs that we are on the way to being a more accessible sport, providing more possibilities for new athletes to join the movement with our Obstacle innovation, as well as catching the attention of more and more audiences.

Looking at social media during the first week of the UIPM competition season, the new feature of short, dramatic clips taken from the UIPMTV stream and quickly posted on social already proved popular, which is great to see! With more athlete-focused social content like this, shining a spotlight on the prowess of our athletes and capturing those incredible moments that determine who wins gold, silver and bronze, we hope you will agree there is a significant improvement in service.

The Riding discipline in Egypt has always been a challenge, but for this 2023 Pentathlon World Cup, the local organising committee presented many great horses, and there was a good level of riding visible in the individual competition. Our athletes also rode well in the Mixed Relay, where performance levels can sometimes be lower with some younger and newer athletes taking part.

Looking at TV, actually we enjoyed a small growth in broadcasters taking our feed in 2022, and already in 2023 we have seen a very significant increase in interest. Normally we have a surge of ‘takers’ for the UIPM Pentathlon World Cup Final and Pentathlon World Championships, but this time we started to have new requests for live coverage of the first event of the season.

It appears clear that networks prefer our shorter Finals format, with an elimination system reducing the number of athletes from 36 to 18 and all five disciplines taking place in less than two hours. It is very encouraging to see the results of a more TV-friendly and presentable format.

Looking to the next stage of evolution that will determine our future, the International Olympic Committee finally announced the precise timeline of its decision-making around the Los Angeles 2028 sports programme.

The decision will be made by the IOC session in October 2023 in Mumbai (IND). This means we have six more months to solidly and continuously demonstrate our improvement at multiple dimensions. Remember the words of IOC President Dr Thomas Bach, when announcing the IOC’s expectations in December 2021.

“The UIPM must finalise its proposal for the replacement of horse riding and the overall competition format, and demonstrate a significant reduction in cost and complexity and an improvement across the areas of safety, accessibility, universality and appeal for young people and the general public.”

Our community still has six months to combine efforts and light a torch of unity and hope, so that we can realise the dream of a bright future for our youth generations.

Internally, the evolution of support and service programmes for our National Federations is realised step by step, and we have opened the tenders for Obstacle competition kit and training kit too, in order to provide additional assistance for our major event organizers who will be the first to integrate Obstacle into Modern Pentathlon.

More improvements and service to facilitate participants will come, and the pathway is never easy. Endurance, cooperation, understanding, open mindset and constant communications are crucial to getting this sport where it belongs.

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