How the modern pentathlon fights for survival
Cycle like a “Ninja Warriors” game instead of a ride. Modern pentathlon opens new prospects for Olympic survival after the Tokyo scandal The new situation will be tested in Ankara. But there are doubts among the athletes.
sSince this fateful journey at the 2021 Summer Games in Tokyo, the modern pentathlon has had to fear for his Olympic future. At that time, Annika Schleu escaped from Berlin with the horse Saint Boy. In front of the cameras, national team coach Kim Reisner shouted at her that Schliu should “wear it hard”. Reisner punched the horse in the side, and the desperate slanderer continued to use the crop. with consequences. The two were denounced around the world for cruelty to animals.
The event triggered a landslide: UIPM exited the pentathlon – but only after the 2024 Olympics in Paris. However, the search for an alternative is already underway. The most promising candidate is currently an obstacle course in the style of the TV show “Ninja Warrior”.
The first test will take place in Ankara (Turkey) on 27-28 June after the World Cup. The federation explains to WELT what athletes can expect: “We are giving athletes, coaches and observers the first opportunity to try out the new system.” The UIPM expects about 100 participants – quintuples, but also obstacle professionals who may want to retrain.
Obstacles like Ninja Warrior
A briefing will be held at the Green Park Hotel the night before the competition. There the participants learn more about obstacle course design and rules.
Then, on June 27, the Ankara Equestrian Club will teach the athletes how to overcome obstacles. The World Federation explains that “the world’s leading obstacle course experts are in charge”. This is followed by a free coaching session in the afternoon. Then the official test takes place the next day: in the morning, the qualifications are in the afternoon, and the finals.
The course should look like this: the basis is a running track up to 100 meters long – with up to four lanes. A maximum of ten obstacles are built on it. Athletes must run, climb, crawl, slide and swing over objects. At the end you have to activate the button to stop the time.
Obstacles include: ladders, rope swings, 1.5m high wall, climbing frame, telescopic steps, 50cm flat crawl track, loops, hand booms, balancing beams, ladders, and barriers to jump over or under you can crawl. At the end there is a wall in the form of a “tsunami” that looks like a half-pipe. You have to step up to this in the end.
Sports should become more dynamic
If you don’t get over an obstacle the first time, you have to try again. If you fail again, you have to continue to the next hurdle. Gloves are allowed, rubbing hands with magnesia is not allowed. Although the athletes know the types of obstacles, they discover in a short time only those that are used in each race. There will be primarily young athletes from Germany. Top athletes are under competitive pressure.
“UIPM will collect opinions from athletes and coaches during these two days,” the federation announced. “The new system will then be developed through these comments.” After that, there will be more tests. The system could then be adopted at the next World Federation Congress in Guatemala from 14 to 16 November.
One of the goals of the new system is to get more athletes into the modern pentathlon. Equestrian sports are relatively expensive – for athletes as well as for organizers. In addition, sports should become more dynamic and attractive to young sports fans. A working group including media experts like Facebook’s director of sports Peter Hutton helped make the selection.
The World Federation is under great pressure: at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the modern pentathlon was not included in the program. You still have to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to include the sport. UIPM President Klaus Schuermann met with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach to promote the new system.
In addition, the federation has to convince its players. There is a lot of opposition from those, because the quintet is no longer what it is without a ride. UIPM recognizes the passion that “athletes want to hold on to horseback riding in order to preserve history and tradition”. We know it’s a “very difficult time for our sport”. But Olympic status is the most important thing and you have to protect it. So there are still many obstacles to overcome.