Modern Pentathlon Claims TV-Adapted Obstacle Courses Can Build the Sport’s Future



A rider with her horse is seen next to a no-go area sign during a news conference on maintaining equestrianism in the modern pentathlon program in Budapest, Hungary, November 12, 2021. REUTERS/Marton Monus /File Photo

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May 4 (Reuters) – Modern pentathlon’s governing body says making TV-friendly obstacle course racing the sport’s fifth discipline will help build its future amid fierce opposition to its decision to scrap the sport. equestrian component of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

From the end of June, the UIPM will test two variations of obstacle courses – which consist of disciplines where athletes run and/or overcome obstacles in timed competitions – after selecting the sport from more than 60 options. Read more

Pentathlon United, a group formed to block the removal of equestrianism, wrote to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) asking for an intervention, saying the UIPM’s consultation process was “illusory at best”. Read more

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The group added that an April survey of 310 athletes – 168 of whom are active – showed that 77% of them said they were unlikely to stay in the sport if riding was removed.

“We understand that some are unhappy. But we have a lot more people who want to embrace change,” UIPM vice-president Joel Bouzou told the Guardian.

“What we are doing is building the future of our sport.

“There are still things to test. But if we do the whole thing with breaks, it could come to almost an hour. If we do it almost continuously, we come to something like 45 minutes.

“It’s ideal for a live program on American television.”

Bouzou said the tactical nature of the obstacle course would make it interesting for athletes.

“With obstacle courses, there are times when you have to jump, hang on and choose options – which means you have to think and there is a tactical element,” Bouzou said. “We want to incorporate all of that and find the complete athlete.”

Former IOC marketing director Michael Payne, who is on the UIPM’s Fifth Discipline Working Group as an external expert, said the global body had compiled data on TV audience , social following, global footprint, spectators and cost of sports.

“Modern pentathlon ranks way down,” Payne said. “Unless you transform it, it no longer contributes to the success, development and strength of the Olympics.”

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Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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