The International Modern Pentathlon Union’s (UIPM’s) announcement last Friday that Riding would be replaced by a new fifth discipline, after the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, has understandably caused shock and strong reactions in Australia and around the world.
Modern Pentathlon Australia (MPA) was able to alert a representative from each member state earlier that week that an announcement was scheduled, and MPA was present on a late night call to hear from the UIPM, along with other national federations, hours before the official UIPM statement.
However, we were unfortunately not able to engage with the broader pentathlon community given the timeframe. And our President Kitty Chiller was not able to attend the emergency UIPM Executive Meeting as she was in the air on her way to Turkey for the International Gymnastics Federation Congress, in her capacity as CEO of Gymnastics Australia.
This Sunday afternoon at 4pm (AEDT) there will be a video conference with Australian athletes, coaches, members and the MPA Board to hear their views; and hopefully by the weekend we will have received more facts from the UIPM. The invite will be sent later today.
The UIPM recently announced they would hold a meeting with athletes early on Saturday morning (1 am AEDT), with any athlete who has competed in UIPM events in the last Olympic cycle (2017-21) eligible to attend. We appreciate this timing is difficult, but it is out of our control, and we are encouraging all eligible athletes to attend and send their questions and comments to the UIPM in advance. We understand that athletes want to have their say and it is very important that they have the appropriate avenue to do so.
MPA will continue our own dialogue with members ahead of the UIPM Congress (November 27-28). A further face to face meeting (and virtual option for those not in attendance) will be held during the Nationals in Canberra in December (17-19).
In a statement last Friday we wrote: ‘MPA supports the UIPM and understands this change is needed to ensure the sport remains in contention to be part of the Olympic programme for Los Angeles 2028, Brisbane 2032, and beyond.’
We stand by our prompt reaction to keep the sport as part of the Olympic Games, as we know that this is by far the pinnacle event for our sport, the Olympics brings the only limited opportunity for funding in Australia for our athletes, and it is the reason many join and know of the sport we love.
And of course it would be tragic for Australia as Olympic hosts in 2032, some 80 years after our first Olympian Forbes Carlisle competed at Helsinki 1952, to not have pentathlon in any form on the Brisbane programme.
Since the UIPM announcement however we have heard from some Australian Olympians that they would prefer to keep the traditional five disciplines, even if that means the sport drops out of the Olympic Games.
On the other side of the coin, we are also hearing from people who have been involved in the sport for a long time who feel that Riding has too many challenges to address and a form of pentathlon at the Games without riding is better than the sport being dropped completely.
There are of course a wide range of views and considerations, and all of them are valid and reasonable.
The news is still very raw for everyone, and the facts around what solution is needed from the International Olympic Committee, and the Los Angeles 2028 Organising Committee, are still not clear.
We will continue to listen, consult and we commit to passing on all feedback to the UIPM, so they understand the strength of views throughout the global community.
For former athletes, coaches, officials or fans who are not members of Modern Pentathlon Australia we encourage you to email us your details to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be in touch with a brief questionnaire to share your thoughts, before passing on our community’s feedback to the UIPM.
MPA will continue to provide updates as facts are known.