Michel Cutait

A significant potential update to the Olympic sport agenda is the prospective inclusion of an obstacle sports event as the new fifth discipline in modern pentathlon.

Obstacle sports was selected in May 2022 by the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) to test its integration into modern pentathlon after the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, with the primary objective of adding the new discipline for Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. The obstacle discipline was selected because it satisfies requirements that it test the complete athlete and fits criteria detailed in Olympic Agenda 2020+5, for universality, popular culture, accessibility, media appeal, and relevancy with youth.

This process of selecting, evaluating, and suggesting the sport discipline that will be part of this new modern pentathlon Olympic proposal has been carried out with extensive responsibility, transparency, with the participation of the sports community.

This transformation is based on reducing the cost and complexity of modern pentathlon, making it more universally accessible, and ensuring the continued development of the sport for the future.

The strategy defined by the UIPM to achieve this transformation is being introduced gradually, providing the opportunity for pentathletes to meet, learn, train and develop their skills through test events, exciting competitions strategically planned to ensure that all participants experience the sport with safety and confidence, receiving training and instruction from experienced obstacle sports athletes, and participating in these events in a free, spontaneous and inclusive manner, open to all interested athletes.

To ensure that these events achieve the objectives, World Obstacle is collaborating with the UIPM to make sure that the process of including obstacle sports in modern pentathlon is done correctly, showing the best of our sports and designing obstacle courses that will be part of the competitions, and, supporting all pentathletes, who have the chance to interact, share and enjoy the fellowship of elite obstacle sports athletes.

The UIPM has staged three test events for the proposed new fifth discipline ©UIPM/Dan Oaten
The UIPM has staged three test events for the proposed new fifth discipline ©UIPM/Dan Oaten

The first New 5th Discipline Test Event took place between June 27 and 28 in Ankara, Turkey, bringing together athletes from over 19 countries, including Olympic medallists and celebrated
obstacle athletes.

The second New 5th Discipline Test Event took place on August 6 and 7 in Manila, Philippines, to facilitate access for athletes from Asia and Oceania who represented nine countries in the region. The event was held in parallel to the Ninja World Cup co-organised by World Obstacle and Pilipinas Obstacle Sports Federation.

The third New 5th Discipline Test Event was held on September 9 and 10 in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy during the UIPM 2022 Under-19 and Under-17 World Championships. This event was in a beach arena on the waterfront and included spectators from the World Championships, parents, coaches and the general public.

The forth New 5th Discipline Test Event is confirmed for October 7 and 8 in Zielona Gora, Poland, which will target junior athletes - 22 and under - consolidating this strategy of introducing the obstacle
discipline to all pentathletes.

In each of those events, the UIPM has conducted surveys among all participants, including athletes, coaches, and officials, and the results have been overwhelming, showing an average approval rate above 90 per cent by all participants, and confirming that the strategy of testing the discipline in real sports competitions, in addition to all the joint efforts between UIPM and World Obstacle to facilitate the adaptation of the pentathletes in the obstacle sports discipline has been worthwhile.

After all these tests, the UIPM will call its members to vote and deliberate on the inclusion of obstacle sports as the fifth discipline of modern pentathlon as a proposal for the Los Angeles Olympic Games, and if approved, the proposal will be submitted to the International Olympic Committee for approval.

The process to replace modern pentathlon's equestrian element is underway ©Getty Images
The process to replace modern pentathlon's equestrian element is underway ©Getty Images

World Obstacle, Fédération Internationale de Sports d'Obstacles, has offered all our resources to assist the UIPM to accomplish this transformation. Either by bringing our leaders, officials and experts to actively collaborate on planning, development and implementation of the obstacles, rules and safety measures, or by sharing the technical capabilities of our key partners, such as The ATS Team, Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Tokyo Broadcasting System, and others to deliver all events with the best facilities, equipment and obstacles. World Obstacle has also engaged the best obstacle course athletes from around the world to serve as role models in the journey of discovering obstacle sports amongst the pentathletes participating in these events.

There is no doubt that this transformation has been historic for modern pentathlon, which will come out reinvigorated and stronger, ensuring the Olympic legacy that has started in 1912 when it was introduced at the fifth Olympic Games in Stockholm as an Olympic sport, by the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who believed that modern pentathlon "tested a man's moral qualities as much as his physical resources and skills, thereby producing the ideal, complete athlete."

Moreover, it has been an unique opportunity for obstacle sports, which are already practiced by 20 million participants around the world and eagerly watched by another 2 billion people at the various events, competitions, shows and championships. World Obstacle and all the players who belong to the obstacle sports ecosystem, our members, partners, event organisers, officials, athletes and participants, are ensuring that our community remains together, committed, enthusiastic and challenged to build a brighter future for obstacle sports, perhaps now also in the Olympic Games.