Olympics-Modern pentathlon to test new obstacle discipline in June

(Reuters) - Obstacle course racing is set to be part of a modern pentathlon competition for the first time next month after a test event in Ankara, Turkey was announced by the sport's governing body (UIPM) on Tuesday.

The discipline will debut at the June 27-28 event after the Pentathlon World Cup final, which will also be staged in the Turkish capital.

Obstacle racing, a sport where athletes run and/or overcome obstacles in timed competitions, will replace the equestrian element in the Olympic modern pentathlon lineup from the 2028 Los Angeles Games if approved at November's UIPM Congress.

The test event in Turkey will involve two to four athletes racing each other over a course up to 100 metres long with as many as 10 obstacles, including a "tsunami" curved wall at the finish line.

Athletes will also contend with a rope swing, monkey bars, balance beam and angled ladders among other obstacles on the course, which was designed in collaboration with governing body World Obstacle.

UIPM described the addition of the discipline as "the biggest shake-up of the Olympic sport in its 110-year history".

"Athletes have been invited to run, walk, climb, crawl, slither, scramble or otherwise propel themselves to the finish line of a bespoke course in Ankara next month," UIPM added.

Earlier this month, two versions of obstacle racing were selected for testing from over 60 proposals to replace show jumping in a bid to boost modern pentathlon's chances of retaining its place at the Olympics beyond 2024.

Equestrian was dropped from the sport after German coach Kim Raisner struck a horse at last year's Tokyo Games when it refused to jump a fence, which led to widespread criticism.

Pentathlon United, a group formed to block the removal of equestrianism, wrote to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) seeking intervention, saying the UIPM's consultation process was "illusory at best".

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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