International Sports Broadcasting on the changing UIPM 2023 World Modern Pentathlon Championships

Silver medalists at the UIPM 2023 World Modern Pentathlon Championships Sunwoo Kim and Woongtae Jun from South Korea [Credit: UIPM World Pentathlon / Nuno Gonçalves]

The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) 2023 World Modern Pentathlon Championships were held in Bath, England, from Saturday 19 August to Monday 28 August, along with the UIPM 2023 Laser Run World Championships that ran from 19 to 21 August in the same location.

The Pentathlon – consisting of running the length of the stadium, jumping, throwing the spear, throwing the discus and wrestling – was introduced for the first time in ancient Greece at the 18th Olympiad in 708BC.

Today, athletes practise Modern Pentathlon which was introduced at the 5th Olympiad in Stockholm, Sweden in 1912. It consists of the more contemporary sports of pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horse riding and running, and the Championships have lined up the best of the best for Paris 2024.

Madrid-based International Sports Broadcasting (ISB) was the host broadcaster for both events, and for UIPM’s other Modern Pentathlon events throughout the season, building up to this grand finale.

Laura Ruiz, technical producer at ISB who is heading up the Modern Pentathlon production this year, says: “To finish the season in this big event in Bath this year was very special, because we had a previous event that was a week before that is the Laser Run World Championships, and then we have the big event that is the Modern Pentathlon World Championships. It was nice that these two events were on in the same place, so we had plenty of time to speak with the local organising committee. People there were very organised and I think very easy to work with.”

Salma Abdelmaksoud and Mohanad Shaban combined to devastating effect to earn Egypt a fourth gold medal as the curtain came down on a truly memorable UIPM 2023 Pentathlon and Laser Run World Championships. The victors led the Mixed Relay from start to finish [Credit: UIPM World Pentathlon / Nuno Gonçalves]

Time for change

After the Olympics next year this historic formula will change to make Modern Pentathlon for senior competitors switch out horse riding for the assault course, with obstacle racing set to be the event that will keep Modern Pentathlon current, and a part of future Olympic Games. Currently the obstacle race is being used in youth competitions.

Ruiz notes that two years into working with Modern Pentathlon, the relationship with the UIPM is strong: “The Federation is very willing to apply any changes or anything else that will improve the broadcasting of Modern Pentathlon,” she says. “They’re very interested to show the best pictures to the world, so that also helps us, that they’re very, very keen to apply any changes that come from our side, that come from their side, or even from coming from people that say, “oh, this might be better doing it that way”. We try it and then we can implement it for the next season.”

Ruiz continues: “I think Pentathlon is a very fun and demanding event because all the venues are different. Not all countries have the venues or the capabilities make this a broadcast-friendly event; you always need to create new solutions for each of the places. I think in Bath we have a very good team, that’s also very, very important for these events.”

After the Olympics next year this historic formula will change to make Modern Pentathlon for senior competitors switch out horse riding for the assault course [Credit: UIPM World Pentathlon / Nuno Gonçalves]

Complex broadcast

Modern Pentathlon is an interesting sport but it comes with its own complexities in making a strong broadcast, Ruiz states: “It is a sport that is very special because it’s five disciplines in one so you do a bit of everything and it’s usually a bit complicated. But that’s the excitement that the whole crew gets, because it is not like a ‘copy and paste’ event. You always need to invest yourself in every single event to actually manage to get the best of each of them.

“So for this one, for the Bath Pentathlon World Championship, we tried to include new elements; we did a add little extra [to this games] with polecams and drones, a little something special, but we have tried to elevate the product as a whole throughout the year and I think we’ve been successful with it.

“Another thing that we’ve added this year for our client is the near-live clipping service, so we’ve provided that through our partners. I think there is a young feeling about UIPM, which is great to work with, because they are keen on executing and putting new stuff on the ground,” she says.

David Taunton, head of production at ISB, dives deeper into some of the changes that ISB has bought into the production since it started working with the UIPM: “In a difference from last year, we wanted to bring up the level as host and provide our clients and takers with what we thought would be a more solid and more complete product compared to last year. We have added equipment, we have added personnel, and we have strived to keep the same personnel throughout the year [for the various UIPM events] and allow those personnel to travel as our core team.

“We do work locally; we always like to have local personnel,” continues Taunton. “It adds to the pride of having an event in your hometown or home country. But we also want to have a little more of a consistent product every time, so we do have a core team of five core team operators, then we have five camera operators that travel with us. We also have a specialty installer, a specialty rigger who travels with us as well. We have a producer, we have our director, and then Laura, of course, whose goals change from planning now that we’re on the ground, to execution,” continues Taunton. “So we’ve wanted to give that a go this year and we’ve seen the results; we really do see it in the final product.”

Ruiz adds: “I think the coverage was very successful. Everyone was very, very happy with the result.”

The next competition in the calendar is the UIPM 2023 Junior World Championships, taking place in Druskininkai, Lithuania, from 12 to 17 September. This will be the first time the obstacle race has been broadcast. The action can be watched live on subscription channel UIPM TV.

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