The Pentathlon World Cup kicked off in Cairo on Tuesday with the competitions being held at the sports facilities of The American University in Cairo from 7 to 12 March.
More than 150 pentathletes from 35 countries are taking part in the one-week competition, the first of the pentathlon World Cup series in 2023, aiming at collecting points that would take them through to the next edition in Ankara, Turkey, with a final destination in Paris.
According to the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) website, none of the athletes can secure a ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at the UIPM Pentathlon World Cup season opener but they can go a long way towards qualifying for the UIPM 2023 Pentathlon World Cup in Ankara in June where the first automatic Olympic qualification places will be on the line.
In addition, all ranking points gained between now and the summer of 2024 can count towards the dream of competing in the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad in Paris. As UIPM President Klaus Schormann said: “For many athletes, the road to Paris starts here.”
UIPM said that this year’s Cairo WC proceedings will replicate the format from 2022 when the new Modern Pentathlon elimination system – featuring a 90-minute showcase of all five disciplines in the semi-finals and finals – was introduced. This format will remain in place until Paris 2024, after which Riding will be replaced by Obstacle.
One change to the format in 2023 relates to the pathway from qualification to semi-finals to final. Last season, there were seven automatic places in each group, with the remaining places allocated according to the highest scores of non-automatic qualifiers.
All places in semi-finals and finals will be awarded equally across the groups, which means the first 18 finishers in each qualification group will reach the semi-finals, and the first nine finishers in each semi-final will reach the Final.
Two days of qualification on 7-8 March will determine the line-up for the semi-finals (36 male and 36 female athletes) on 9-10 March. The finals will take place on 11 March 11 followed by the Mixed Relay on 12 March.
Realising that Paris 2024 means everything to France as they mean to continue by fielding a world-class team, the UIPM reflects on the athletes to be watched in Cairo at the beginning of the season, featuring and starting with the French athletes: Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist and 2022 World Cup final winner Elodie Clouvel, two-time world champion Valentin Belaud, three-time World Cup final winner Valentin Prades, former European champion and two-time World Cup winner Marie Oteiza and Christophe Patte who had won in Cairo in 2018 and 2022.
Hosts Egypt can expect to be competitive with a team led by two remarkable brothers. Having missed last season through injury, Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallist Ahmed Al-Gendi competes against younger brother Mohamed who dramatically won silver at the UIPM 2022 Pentathlon World Championships for the first time.
In a welcome address to the pentathlon family, Schormann said: “I would like to welcome all athletes, coaches and trainers, guests and officials to the first UIPM competition of the 2023 season which will be an exciting year full of opportunities for athletes to progress and fulfil their dreams. For many athletes, the road to Paris 2024 starts here.
“As I have said many times in recent years, Egypt has become a trusted pillar of our movement and not only can we expect a high level of organisation and hospitality throughout this UIPM Pentathlon World Cup, we can also rely on our hosts to provide competitive athletes.
“It is wonderful also to see African athletes coming from Burkina Faso and Uganda to take part in this competition alongside ‘new’ Modern Pentathlon nations from Asia such as India and Thailand. Six continents will be represented which underlines the progress of our global movement.
“I would like to thank the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation for arranging this important annual season-opener, with vital contributions from the Egyptian government and National Olympic Committee. I also want to thank all volunteers, sponsors, supporters and media representatives.
“I wish you all a wonderful season of Modern Pentathlon. Let us take all opportunities to use our sport to promote the ideals of education, fair play, respect and, most importantly, peace.”
* A version of this article appears in print in the 9 March, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly