Earlier this week my favorite bro Joe De Sena announced that Obstacle Course Racing was finally coming to the Olympics. Joe announced it on IG, saying in a short video post that he'd proven everyone wrong, implying that this had happened because of him. Because he's Joe De Sena.
I was curious to hear the REAL story and I knew others would get to the bottom of this. Right on cue, Matt B. Davis over at Obstacle Racing Media had an interview with Joe that is worth watching, if only to watch Matt's face during the interview. Joe, despite being in his late 50s, is one of those people that loves to incorrectly use the word "literally", which happens to be a pet peeve of mine. It's one thing when it's a young Gen Z-er or reality star, it's another when it's someone that should know better. But Joe admits in the interview that he wasn't given a heads up and I found that interesting. Matt B. Davis (I always feel the need to spell out his entire name) reminds Joe that obstacle course racing is not just about Spartan and Joe. Joe of course responds with a "well then we're like Ironman and the triathlon." Sigh.
I digress. So what is really happening? Well, for now there aren't a lot of specifics, but here's the high-level summary:
Obstacle course racing is under consideration to be the fifth discipline in the Modern Pentathlon event, replacing the equestrian event. My first thought as your typical American was "what's the Modern Pentathlon?"
There are two obstacle course racing formats under consideration, but the details around the events are vague.
Testing for the two events will start after the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Also, Modern pentathlon isn't officially confirmed for the 2028 Olympics (but it could still be added).
Is being one part of a five-part event better than nothing? I discussed the case for making OCR an Olympic sport back in August. If we were talking about OCR as a Track and Field event or gymnastics, then sure. Those are high visibility sports. But Modern Pentathlon? Um, I'm not sure it will make a difference. I'll pose similar questions I asked back in August:
Who benefits from OCR appearing as an Olympic Sport?
Does anyone care about the Olympics anymore?
If the sport doesn't get any attention or air time, does it matter?
COVID hasn't been kind to the OCR industry. As annoying as the Spartan organization is, they are the biggest brand in the sport, and their survival is critical to the ongoing success of obstacle course racing. If they can't make it, it doesn't bode well for the future of the sport, or it's place in Olympic history.
What do you think? Is this good news? Bad news? No news? OCR Buddy has a great summary of various articles if you're interested in reading more.