The UIPM's third test event for obstacle discipline was aimed at athletes in the under-19 and under-17 age categories ©UIPM

International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) President Klaus Schormann has insisted that the governing body is "on the right track" after its third test event of the obstacle discipline, which could replace riding at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.

Riding is set to be axed from modern pentathlon after Paris 2024, and the sport, along with boxing and weightlifting, has been left off the initial programme for Los Angeles 2028 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), albeit with a "pathway" for inclusion.

Proposals on modern pentathlon's format to be submitted to the IOC for Los Angeles 2028 are set to be voted on at this year's online UIPM Congress, with a third test event of the obstacle discipline taking place alongside the UIPM Youth World Championships in Lignano Sabbiadoro.

According to the UIPM, 122 pentathletes from 21 countries took part in the test event, and Schormann hailed the inclusion of competitors in the under-19 and under-17 age categories at the Championships.

"What we saw from the athletes who took part in this third test event of the new pentathlon discipline was a high level of excitement - they were asking ‘can we repeat, can we repeat?'" he said.

"We have learned from these young athletes that we are on the right track.

"As we all know, we already tested the concept with seniors in Ankara and then a mixed demographic in Manila, but here the young athletes are focusing on the future and we are focusing on the future.

"It will be very important for us to receive their feedback and find out more about what they liked, what were their impressions.

"The voice of athletes is always important and has to stay in the centre of our preparations and later our discussions and the decision that will be made by Congress."

UIPM President Klaus Schormann argued that the third obstacle discipline test event showed
UIPM President Klaus Schormann argued that the third obstacle discipline test event showed "we are on the right track" ©Getty Images

UIPM Athletes Committee chair Yasser Hefny said that the under-19 and under-17 athletes represent "the future of our sport", and argued "they are enthusiastic and they want to learn and improve."

"We heard the voice of youth loud and clear, both at the competition venue and in a meeting afterwards," Hefny said.

"They are happy to have more information about obstacle discipline and they are happy to have tried it.

"I recommend that all generations of pentathletes listen carefully to the views of these athletes when forming their own opinions about the future direction of the sport."

While the UIPM appears to be veering closer towards selecting obstacle as the sport's fifth discipline, fierce criticism remains from the Pentathlon United pressure group.

This was formed last year in the wake of revelations that riding would be dropped, and has expressed a lack of confidence in the UIPM leadership and displeasure at the process of selecting a new fifth discipline, and put forward a proposal to "keep riding and change the rules."

In its latest initiative, 26 high-profile senior and junior athletes, including the reigning men's Olympic champion Joe Choong of Britain, have featured in a video urging the UIPM to maintain equestrian's presence in modern pentathlon.

Pentathlon United has also regularly cited the results of its survey in which 92 per cent of respondents wish to retain riding.

The final test event for obstacle discipline is set to be held in the Polish city of Zielona Góra on October 7 and 8 alongside the Junior World Championships, featuring an emphasis on under-22 athletes.

Advocates of the new fifth discipline argue it makes modern pentathlon more accessible, and should avoid a repeat of the upsetting scenes of Tokyo 2020, where German coach Kim Raisner was sent home in disgrace for punching a horse that refused to jump during the women's competition.

IOC sports director Kit McConnell acknowledged last week that there are "two aspects to this", covering "the elected Athlete Commission voice" and "other athletes which may or may not have the same opinion, which also have a voice."

He added that "we’re looking forward to the UIPM reflecting that athlete voice both in their review of that fifth discipline, finalising the recommendation of that discipline, and then in the proposals they put forth to us."