Two aspiring pentathletes from Thailand, who will make their first trip overseas when they travel to Manila (PHI) for Test Event II, described how they felt when they heard the news.
Sasitorn Kunkit (THA) said: “It’s amazing news that the New Pentathlon Discipline is coming to Asia. I’m so excited to meet athletes from other countries during the Test Event in Manila.
“If Obstacle Discipline replaces Riding in Modern Pentathlon, it means we can truly dream of competing in the Olympic Games.
“Right now, we simply can’t compete at the same level because Riding is too difficult to organise here. We actually have good opportunities to train for Obstacle Discipline because we can use a special gym here where Navy Seals from the US also train.”
Poranat Charoenying (THA) said: “I’m really excited to take part in the Test Event in August, I think it will be very interesting as a pentathlete to test my skills on the obstacle course and learn how the obstacle athletes train and race.
“I’ve seen obstacle racing shows like Ninja Warrior on TV and it’s such a buzz, it’s amazing to think we might be able to compete in this kind of racing in the future.”
Obstacle athlete Louise Ferriman of Great Britain, speaking in a recent edition of the Obstacle Race Media podcast, said: “I think the event in Ankara was really successful in so far as there was a lot of young blood out there. The young pentathletes transferred their athletic prowess on to our rigs amazingly, and they were so keen to listen and learn and be part of it, and it was just a really good vibe.
“It was really important that we went out there and showed our sport and our community ethos, and how accessible it can be to everybody.”
Yasser Hefny of Egypt, UIPM Athletes Committee Chair, said: “The feedback among athletes who took part in the first Test Event of Obstacle Discipline – not only in the competition day, but also in the free training day – has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Some athletes have been understandably cautious about embracing the new discipline, which is a fundamental change to Modern Pentathlon and the way we train and compete. It is good to see that some who opposed Obstacle Discipline initially are now more open to the idea, and feedback has been especially positive from junior and youth athletes who participated in Ankara. All pentathletes who took part demonstrated their versatility in adapting to this new opportunity.
“We continue to communicate very closely with our global athlete community to make sure everyone fully understands the context behind the change and has the opportunity to express their feelings and be heard.”
Christian Roudaut of France, UIPM Coaches Committee Chair, said: “Conditions in Ankara were excellent and we are grateful to the obstacle athletes for their advice and expertise. It’s important to note that Obstacle Discipline is in a testing phase and there are many points to work on, especially around organisational format and rules.
“I think all coaches present in Ankara could be very proud of the capacity of pentathletes to adapt and acquire the first technical elements of this new discipline. Members of the Coaches Committee are sharing information and working in partnership with our counterparts from FISO to understand more about training and preparation methods.
“The participation of coaches from the entire Pentathlon family will be essential to arrive at the final format. This new direction for Modern Pentathlon can give us opportunities for development all around the world.”
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “On behalf of the UIPM Executive Board, I am pleased to say that the first Test Event of the Obstacle Discipline can be declared a success.
“We already have a second Test Event in the pipeline and can look forward to seeing more athletes from different communities coming together to try this exciting new concept, which promises to transform Modern Pentathlon into one of the most popular, dynamic and accessible sports in the Olympic Games.
“I encourage athletes to take all possible opportunities to learn more about Obstacle Discipline and play a part in shaping the future of Modern Pentathlon. By doing so they can help to make our sport and the Olympic Games more appealing to younger fans around the world, more sustainable and more commercially attractive.”
UIPM Operations Director Dr Alexandre França said: “The responses to the three surveys distributed to athletes and observers in Ankara will be fully evaluated and will inform preparations for Test Event II and future Obstacle Discipline tests.
“As well as rating their level of satisfaction with various aspects of the event, respondents identified areas for improvement and we are already looking closely at the balance of obstacles between the physical demands of upper body and legs, contingencies for rain, measures to prevent skin injuries and the height of obstacles.”
FISO President Ian Adamson said: “The FISO and UIPM athletes, officials and organisers did an excellent job delivering a balanced course and competition for Test Event I. The goal of the course was to provide a balanced representation of the wide diversity of obstacles and formats in obstacle course racing and Ninja competitions.
“The overwhelming consensus is we achieved this objective. We are excited to refine the course for the second test, taking into account observations and feedback from the first test and from the Pentathlon and Obstacle communities.”
Obstacle Discipline was selected in May 2022 for testing as UIPM explores the possibility of integrating the globally popular racing concept into Modern Pentathlon after the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. At the end of the testing and evaluation phase, UIPM 2022 Congress will vote on proposals for the Los Angeles 2028 Modern Pentathlon format to be submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).