Modern pentathlon’s new obstacle discipline includes monkey bars, tsunami wall

Modern Pentathlon - Olympics: Day 15
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Monkey bars and a tsunami wall could be coming to the Olympics.

Details for the new obstacle discipline of modern pentathlon were announced Tuesday.

The sport’s international governing body said last year that the horse riding discipline had to be removed to boost the chances of keeping modern pentathlon’s place in the Olympics beyond 2024.

The obstacle discipline, chosen from among 60 proposals, will replace horse riding in the Olympic modern pentathlon lineup starting with the 2028 Los Angeles Games, pending approval at a November congress. Star athletes have voiced disapproval, and modern pentathlon still must be added to the LA Olympic program.

The discipline that will debut with a test event June 27-28 in Turkey includes two to four athletes racing each other over a course up to 100 meters long with up to 10 obstacles. The list of obstacles in play:

Ascending steps
Rope swing
1.5-meter wall
Monkey bars
Offset steps
0.5-meter low crawl
Rings rig
Under-over-under-over
Wheels rig
Balance beam
Angled ladders
Finish ‘Tsunami’ curved wall

Modern pentathlon’s governing body called it “the biggest shakeup” since the sport made its Olympic debut in 1912.

Athletes will “run, walk, climb, crawl, slither, scramble or otherwise propel themselves to the finish line of a bespoke course,” according to a press release.

Modern pentathlon will be held at the 2024 Paris Games with horse riding, but it is not currently on the 2028 Los Angeles program. It could still be added for 2028.

“They must demonstrate a significant reduction in cost and complexity and improvements across the areas for safety, accessibility, universality, appeal for youth and general public,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in December.

It has been reported that horse riding was encouraged to be replaced after an incident of horse abuse at the Tokyo Olympics — a German coach hit a horse that refused to jump — but Bach did not mention that in his public comments about the event’s Olympic future.

Brits Joe Choong and Kate French, who won the gold medals in Tokyo, are among the modern pentathletes who have spoken out against the removal of horse riding.

The other modern pentathlon events are fencing, swimming and a combined running and shooting event. Modern pentathlon was created by the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, and has roots in the duties required of a soldier from the late 19th century.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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