When we found out that the University of Bath would be hosting the 2015 Modern Pentathlon Championships we wanted to be involved. We're always keen to introduce new audiences to the archives that we look after, so the opportunity to reach out to an international crowd of sporting enthusiasts right on our doorstep seemed too good to miss. After speaking with the event organisers, we needed to come up with a way for young people to explore the sport's heritage; something colourful, engaging, logistically straightforward and weather-proof.
The UK Modern Pentathlon Collection housed within the Library's Archives & Research Collections comprises governing body committee minutes, regulations, press material, photographs and newsletters, as well as national and overseas event programmes and results data. It also contains badges, medals and a small selection of official ties issued to club members and athletes competing at international level. One of the most stylish and strikingly purple was worn at the Moscow World Championships in 1974 and provided us with an idea for our outdoors, hands-on, archives-based activity.
As swimming, fencing, riding, shooting and running competitions took place around us, unperturbed by high winds and heavy downpours, some of the younger spectators had fun designing and making colourful modern pentathlon ties inspired by our archives. Former GB, European, World and Olympic champion pentathletes (and their children) were amongst visitors to the tie-making tent in the Sports Training Village. Taking inspiration from sporting ties of the past, inventive new designs featured horses, fencing epees, swimming goggles, stars, hearts, feathers, underpants, Bob the minion, and lots and lots of glitter!