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Interview: Kian O’Boyle (USA), Obstacle specialist and Junior pentathlete

Modern Pentathlon

All journeys have to start somewhere – and the experience of Kian O’Boyle of United States at the UIPM 2023 Junior World Championships underlined the possibilities and challenges created by the integration of Obstacle into Modern Pentathlon.

Competing in a Pentathlon for only the second time, the 19-year-old Ninja specialist demonstrated his athleticism and speed with a remarkable Obstacle time of exactly 25sec in the second Qualification round.

Could he possibly make the Final? O’Boyle (USA) certainly did his best to do so, having already gained eight wins in the Fencing Ranking Round. A time of 2min 26.25 in Swimming kept him on the verge, but Laser Run proved too much of a challenge for the inexperienced competitor and he finally finished 28th overall, 10 places short of a Final berth.

UIPM News caught up with O’Boyle (USA) immediately after his competition to find out more about his journey from a Ninja gym to the Olympic Games’ most challenging multi-sport – a journey that will be shared by many other athletes from around the world in the years to come.


Was this your first Pentathlon?

“It was my second Pentathlon – the first one I did was the National Championship in the US earlier this year.

When did you start Pentathlon and where did you start training?

“I started Pentathlon because my parents own a Ninja gym, and USA Pentathlon used the gym to host the Obstacle portion of the National Championship – and they invited me to do a week-long training camp ahead of the competition.

“I did the Junior National Championship and I won that, and I basically have been training parts of the Pentathlon for a while. I ran in high school and I started Ninja in 2019, but I’ve been climbing forever.”

What is your history in Obstacle racing?

“Since 2019, I’ve gone to the World Championships held by various Ninja Warrior organisations. I have also competed in Spartan as an elite racer, and I competed at an OCR Cup competition in the US.”

What did you think of the Obstacle race here in Lithuania?

“It was really fun. The obstacles in this course were a lot easier than the obstacles I generally encounter, which I think is down partially to how new most of the athletes are to the sport. It was very fun because it allowed me to work on a lot of the basic moves and just go very fast.”

And how about the sport overall, with Obstacle integrated?

“I think it definitely changes the athlete profile, because it’s a totally different sport requiring very good proprioception and the ability to time things [well] – which I think is similar to Fencing. I think it fits fairly well, because the strength and other things will come from Swimming.”

Is the LA28 Olympics a goal for you?

“I’ve definitely been talking about that with my coaches. I’m going to see how the sport progresses for the next couple of years, but if the sport continues with Ninja and if I am able to get to that level, physically – then absolutely.”

Can you describe your experience here in Lithuania for your first UIPM World Championships?

“It’s been very fun. I had never been to Europe. I’ve tried some great food and I’m very excited to do some touring for a couple of days. I’m missing school to be here. I’m studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kansas, in my second year.

“I’ve been telling a lot of people about it – and some of those people think I should be talking to more people about it! They say, ‘you’re going to the World Championships and you don’t talk about it? You’ve only told five people?’ And then they go around telling everyone.

“There is not a Ninja gym super-close, but there is a climbing club and they have some similar obstacle stuff like pull-up bars. But less than an hour’s drive away, there are two or three obstacle gyms.”

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