Olympic champion and UIPM Executive Board member Janusz Peciak has claimed obstacle racing can help modern pentathlon develop globally ©UIPM

Polish Olympic modern pentathlon champion Janusz Peciak has claimed that replacing horse riding with obstacle racing as the sport’s fifth discipline will ensure medals are no longer determined by "luck" and can help to secure its future in the Olympics.

Peciak, a gold medallist at Montreal 1976 who is an Executive Board member for sport at the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM), claimed that many athletes were left "frustrated" by the "unfair" system of randomly drawing riders with horses for the equestrian discipline.

The five-time world champion said he "suffered" from this model and did not want other athletes to endure the same heartache.

Riding is set to be axed as modern pentathlon’s fifth discipline following the Paris 2024 Olympics as the UIPM looks to replace it with obstacle racing - a move backed by Peciak.

"I competed in modern pentathlon for 20 years, and I know that sometimes in our sport, riding was not always fair," said Peciak, who is also head of the Polish Modern Pentathlon Association.

"We draw the horses, not like riders in equestrian who know their horses.

"Many top athletes suffered something that was unfair, and we saw what happened in the Olympic Games in Rio and also in Tokyo.

Janusz Peciak believes the equestrian discipline is
Janusz Peciak believes the equestrian discipline is "unfair" due to the random draw ©Getty Images

"I hope we will move on from a situation that leaves a lot of athletes frustrated, because luck is sometimes taking medals away from them. 

"Obstacle discipline will end this type of situation.

"Like many others I suffered, in the World Championships and in my last Olympic Games, and all athletes have suffered at some time.

"And now, every year horses are becoming more and more expensive, because of insurance and so on, and if we keep going, we will keep reducing the pentathlon.

"I think we need a future for the pentathlon where all countries from all continents can compete."

Criticism has been levelled at the UIPM over a lack of transparency in the process to replace riding.

More than 93 per cent of respondents to a survey launched by the Pentathlon United group found that they were "unhappy with the direction the sport is going in".

But Peciak believes obstacle racing can be the key to ensuring modern pentathlon remains an Olympic sport after being left off the initial list for Los Angeles 2028.

"I would like to send a message to all athletes who are still competing that they should never close the door for the young athletes who have a dream to compete in the Olympic Games," said Peciak.

"They need to think about young athletes, especially those who want to compete in Los Angeles in 2028, because this is our dream, this is why Pierre de Coubertin invented the sport for the Olympic Games.

"I hope that sooner or later, the older athletes who are against obstacle discipline will finally understand."

Zielona Góra in Poland is set to stage the fourth test event for obstacle racing ©UIPM
Zielona Góra in Poland is set to stage the fourth test event for obstacle racing ©UIPM

A series of test events for obstacle racing are being held by the UIPM, with Zielona Góra in Poland the latest to play host.

Athletes have been invited to attend the event, scheduled to be held tomorrow and Saturday (October 8) alongside the Junior World Championships.

"I was in Ankara for the first test event and saw the course, and I think it was very successful," said Peciak.

"I spoke with a lot of athletes who participated and they were very happy with the change we are undertaking.

"We are going in an excellent direction to make the sport accessible in all countries around the world, especially Africa and Asia.

"At this moment, many countries cannot afford to provide riding because every year it gets more and more expensive, and I know especially young athletes love obstacle courses.

"So I know that this change will help us to develop the sport worldwide.

"It's great that we are testing obstacle discipline in different environments, especially outdoor but also indoor, because some time I would like to see that we compete in pentathlon all through the winter, not only in summer.

"Testing the event indoors is very interesting and what I see here in Poland is a very nice set-up."