Modern pentathlon votes to swap horse riding with obstacles

By The Associated Press

Modern pentathlon federations endorsed the decision to replace equestrian with “American Ninja Warrior” style obstacle courses as the fifth discipline to save the sport from Olympic elimination.

There were 83 members who submitted a valid vote at the organization’s congressional session, with 69 votes in favour, 11 against and three abstentions.

Next step: International Olympic Committee approval for the change.

As it stands, modern pentathlon in its current form of fencing, swimming, laser shooting, running and show jumping would be off the schedule after the Paris 2024 Games.

Modern pentathlon has faced a major crossroads with the five-event show jumping component of the competition coming under intense scrutiny after a German trainer was caught on camera punching a weak horse cooperative during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

In an effort to return to the Olympic programme, the governing body of modern pentathlon, known by its French acronym UIPM, has trialled obstacle courses to replace equestrianism. Ring swings and rope mazes could take center stage for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

There’s still time to revisit the Los Angeles 28 schedule as well, should the IOC approve a change.

“We do not forget our past, our heritage, but our focus is the future,” UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said in a statement. “It is very important that our voting members have today provided a strong mandate for the obstacle discipline to be integrated into our Olympic multisport.”

For some in the modern pentathlon community, this kind of change tears at the very essence of a sport closely tied to horses. It is a sport that has been part of the Olympics for over 100 years. Invented by the founder of the IOC, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, it underwent several transformations, such as pistol shooting replaced by laser pistols before the London Games in 2012.

The change was also seen as a way to modernize the sport at a time when the Olympics are seeking younger audiences.


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