Modern Pentathlon Australia (MPA) is proud to represent the interests of the modern pentathlon community in Australia.
In Australia, modern pentathlon receives very little Government funding. Our community relies on goodwill and the collective effort of volunteers to nurture and promote our athletes, and our athletes must be self-reliant, resilient and highly motivated to succeed. Despite this, Australia has a proud history of participation in modern pentathlon. Sydney 2000 saw the women’s event included for the first time in the Olympic program, and Australia’s Chloe Esposito took home the gold medal in Rio 2016.
Modern pentathlon is the only sport specifically created for the Olympic Games, designed as the ‘ultimate test of the ultimate athlete’. While the five disciplines have remained constant, the format has evolved over time to reflect the changing needs of athletes and audiences.
On November 12-13, the international modern pentathlon community will be asked to decide whether to replace the riding discipline with obstacle course racing (OCR) at the annual Congress of the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM). The UIPM Executive has declared that OCR represents the only option for modern pentathlon to regain its place in the sports program for LA28. However, on anything more than a superficial examination, none of the material provided by the UIPM Executive demonstrates how the OCR format presented meets the six criteria set by the IOC. Further, the overwhelming majority of Australian pentathletes have told MPA they want to retain the traditional disciplines, and do not want OCR.
MPA recognizes our sport must continue to adapt, in order to remain relevant, accessible and exciting to watch. We believe that reforming the riding discipline to improve riding standards and horse welfare is the best and surest path to achieve this. We also believe the sport, and its athletes, have the strength, focus and discipline needed to adopt these reforms.
Importantly, leadership and governance of our sport must also adapt and improve.
Contemporary leadership requires collaboration, consultation and engagement with stakeholders. Contemporary governance is accountable, transparent, effective, equitable and inclusive. True contemporary governance requires substance as well as superficial form. Many national federations, including MPA, have raised concerns regarding the UIPM executive’s approach to governance, to little effect. Stakeholder trust can only be built if leaders are transparent in their disclosures, take accountability for their actions, and engage ethically, honestly and constructively with all stakeholders.
Regardless of the outcome of Congress, modern pentathlon faces a period of transition. If we are to succeed in navigating that transition, we need leaders who are committed to, and who have demonstrated their commitment to, contemporary leadership and contemporary governance. The current UIPM leadership has lost the trust of athletes and its constituent national federations. Without trust, there cannot be credibility or effective governance.
MPA looks forward to being part of a transparent, inclusive and collaborative discussion at Congress, and to the attendance of observers from ASOIF and the IOC.