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Hugo Fleming; Modern Pentathlon

Hi, I’m Hugo and I’m a first-year PhD student on the Wellcome Neuroscience PhD programme, specifically researching the neuroscience of mental health. I actually compete in two different sports – my priority at the moment is athletics, in which I run the 800m, but I also compete in Modern Pentathlon, and in fact it was through pentathlon that I first got started in competitive sport.


I started out aged 9, competing in the Schools’ Biathlon competitions (running and swimming) organised by the GB Modern Pentathlon Association. I was invited by the organisers to train for the remaining Pentathlon events – shooting, fencing and show-jumping - and that year I won silver at the national Modern Pentathlon Championships. Subsequently, I went on to take the national title three times, and represented GB internationally as a youth athlete.


The running event was always my favourite and, after finishing 3rd in the 800m at the English Schools’ Championships aged 14, I decided that I was capable of pursuing both Athletics and Modern Pentathlon in parallel, and this is a balance that I have worked hard to maintain ever since. As an undergraduate, I was particularly proud of results such as coming second in the BUCS Modern Pentathlon Championships in 2017, and placing 9th and 10th respectively at the England U23s and BUCS Athletics Championships, also in 2017.


Looking to the future, I would like to improve my current PB in the 800m (1:51.37) – to go sub-1:50 would be magical – and if I can manage that then I would also qualify for the British Senior Championships and be in with a good chance of medals at the English and BUCS Championships too. On the pentathlon side, I’d like to target more BUCS medals in the coming years as well.


Of course, the big change this year has been moving to London and starting postgraduate research, so I have had to adapt my training accordingly. Research is a full-time job, so I need to schedule in my sessions around lab hours (which can be difficult when I have a double training day). On the other hand I feel I have hugely benefitted from the UCL Elite Programme, which has enabled me to access top-level athlete support and has already made a big difference to my training. At BUCS Pentathlon I improved on my points score from last year and I have also run my fastest ever outdoor season opener in the 800m (1:53), so I am looking forward to the forthcoming national championships and the remainder of this season!