Elena Micheli, the world champion in modern pentathlon, expressed her disappointment that horse riding will no longer be a part of the sport after the Paris Olympics in 2024. However, she believes that obstacle racing is the way forward for modern pentathlon. The sport faced controversy during the Tokyo Games when a coach struck a horse that refused to jump a fence. As a result, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) initially excluded modern pentathlon from the 2028 Los Angeles Games. However, the IOC later approved its inclusion after the global governing body UIPM replaced horse riding with obstacle racing. The traditional format of modern pentathlon will continue in France next year before the switch. Micheli, who is the individual world champion for 2022 and 2023, expressed her sadness about the removal of horse riding but acknowledged the benefits of obstacle racing in terms of economics, entertainment, and timing. She sees it as an opportunity for pentathletes to continue participating in the Olympics. Olympic champion Joe Choong had previously considered leaving the sport if equestrianism was replaced, but Micheli encouraged athletes to give obstacle racing a chance. She emphasized that modern pentathlon has always undergone changes and adaptations, and athletes should embrace the new challenge before making any decisions. Yasser Hefny, the chairman of the UIPM athletes committee, highlighted that obstacle racing could attract more participants to the sport, as running and obstacles are natural activities that can be learned and developed at any age. Swimming, the remaining component of modern pentathlon, is a skill that should be learned from childhood, but an experienced obstacle athlete with swimming practice can easily integrate into the sport. Overall, Micheli and Hefny believe that obstacle racing is a positive step for modern pentathlon’s future.
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