- Obstacle Discipline successfully and safely tested by athletes from five continents
- Joy of sport and exploration brings together two sports communities
- “It’s a discipline that anyone can try and it’s a lot of fun” – ninja warrior champion
- “I really thought it was cool with a lot of various obstacles” – Chatellier (FRA)
The obstacle has arrived – and already some of the barriers of modern pentathlon have been removed.
The 1st Pentathlon New Discipline Test Event was hailed as a success by a global group of senior and junior pentathletes and obstacle specialists who had gathered in Ankara (TUR) to write history. The two communities of athletes – representing five continents – blended naturally during a day of fluid competition, discovery and mutual learning.
Nearly 100 athletes from 19 countries signed up to run, in six categories – four for pentathletes and two for obstacle athletes. No injuries were reported except for swollen hands for pentathletes unfamiliar with the demands of obstacle course racing.
- To download a video press release and photographs from Test Event I
In addition to learning more about the physical demands of the obstacle discipline and sharing the joy of exploration, the participating pentathletes performed with competitive spirit and amazing adaptability.
A pentathlete, Tobie Yesterday of Germanyclocked a best time of 34 seconds which was faster than many of his Obstacle counterparts and less than 7 seconds slower than the day’s best time of 27.42 seconds set by the 2019 World Champion Dimitri Houles of France.
Selen Gulel (TUR), junior women’s champion
“I am so happy to win a medal for my country in the first test event of the new 5th discipline – especially the gold medal. It was hard and tough and we did our best.
“It was good to compete alongside my friends, and it was so much fun for me and so exciting. I was a little anxious at first, but it was great, and I’m so happy and so grateful UIPM for this opportunity.
Cédric Chatellier (FRA), junior men’s champion
“I really thought the obstacle discipline was cool with a lot of different obstacles – it was very interesting. I liked it and was very successful. Of course it’s quite hard on the hands and arms, but with a little time to adapt, it will be fine.
“I think it’s a good thing to have the obstacle discipline as a new 5th discipline. I hope the IOC will see that this is a good initiative.
Obstacle athlete reaction
Olivia Vivian (AUS), women’s champion
“The pentathletes I saw on the obstacle course today were incredible. To see the joy on their faces, there’s nothing like overcoming an obstacle for the first time. And the improvement from training to competition was already huge.
“What I see for the future with the addition of obstacle discipline is much more exciting. Not just from viewers, because it’s so exciting to watch races side by side, but also a lot more interest from obstacle athletes.
“It’s a discipline that anyone can try. It’s a lot cheaper than horse riding to try and practice, and it’s also a lot of fun. I think a lot of obstacle athletes will also want to try modern pentathlon.
Dimitri Houles (FRA), men’s champion
“I am very happy to be here and that our fellow pentathletes can try the obstacle discipline and I am very impressed by the fact that they face the obstacles.
“I think the obstacle discipline is very suitable for the new 5th discipline, because it is dynamic, fast and can increase the interest of the media. It must be appreciated by spectators and athletes.
“Obstacle discipline will create new skills for pentathletes, especially to develop upper body strength.”
How it worked
After a day of training (June 27) which allowed many other athletes to try the course, including the Pan American champion Mariana Arceo of Mexicoall returning athletes had at least two chances to run the bespoke course, built on-site in collaboration with World Obstacle (FISO), Tokyo Broadcasting System Television (TBS) and Spartan Race.
Some elite pentathletes like the Egypt and Korea teams – including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medalist June Woongtae and 4th Jinhwa Jung – competed in the qualifying round but failed to reach the medal races.
The course included the following nine obstacles:
- A frame
- balance beams
- tsunami wall
Summary of podiums
The senior women’s title was won by the top-50 ranked pentathlete Sophie Hernández of Guatemalawho won a race for the gold medal against Jessica Suton of Britain. The bronze medal went to Ludovica Montecchia of Italy.
The very impressive Hierl (GER) won the senior men’s category after beating Andres Torres of Ecuador in the race for the gold medal, with Robin Schmidt (GER) taking bronze.
The junior champions were Gulel (TUR) and Chatellier (FRA), with the other medals won by athletes from Guatemala, Germany, Turkey and South Africa.
There were separate categories for obstacle athletes, and it was no surprise to see ninja warrior grand finalist Olivia Viviane of Australia – a former Olympic gymnast – wins the women’s final against Kat Jonaczyk of Polandbronze going to Ibtisam Gardabou of Belgium.
The men’s final was won by the unstoppable Houles (FRA) and he was joined on the podium by the silver medalist Steve Trachsel of Swiss and James Burton (GBR), who won bronze.
Reaction from the President of the UIPM
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “Today we had the historic first test event for the integration of a new 5th discipline into modern pentathlon – a new dawn for our sport.
“The course layout was dynamic and challenging, and it tested the versatility and unique skills of the pentathletes. The athletes really enjoyed the competition – you could see and feel the excitement on their faces and in their interviews afterwards. It was a great first step towards a young, urban and very accessible future for our sport.
“It’s not just a matter of replacing one discipline with another. Obstacle Discipline will transform the modern pentathlon into a TV-friendly multisport with proven appeal to young fans and business partners around the world. The UIPM Athletes’ Committee played a central role in the process and several members led by example in the obstacle course over the past two days.
“We are grateful to everyone involved – the judges, the observers, the members of the new 5th discipline working group and the Turkish Modern Pentathlon Federation for all their help – not only this week but during the World Cup in 2022 UIPM pentathlon and the World Cup final.”
Obstacle Discipline was selected in May 2022 for testing as the UIPM explores the possibility of incorporating the globally popular racing concept into modern pentathlon after the Paris 2024 Olympics. evaluation, the 2022 UIPM Congress will vote on the Los Angeles 2028 Modern Pentathlon format proposals to be submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
A survey of all athletes, coaches and observers participating in Test Event I will now be assessed and the results will be announced soon along with details for Test Event II.