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The Tokyo Olympic horse-punch saga has officially pushed modern pentathlon to ditch horse riding after 109 years

Barnaby Lane   

The Tokyo Olympic horse-punch saga has officially pushed modern pentathlon to ditch horse riding after 109 years
  • Horse riding is to be officially cut from the modern pentathlon.
  • The decision from the sport's governing body comes in light of the Toyko Olympics' horse-punching saga.

Horse riding is to be cut from the modern pentathlon in light of the Tokyo Olympics' horse-punching saga, the sport's governing body has confirmed after days of speculation.

The sport has been in the spotlight since the games, and in particular an incident in which German coach Kim Raisner was ejected after she lashed at out athlete Annika Schleu's horse, Saint Boy, when the animal refused to jump during the show-jumping round of the women's event.

The incident prompted backlash from animal rights activists and fans across the globe, and led to an internal reckoning within the sport, which has culminated in horse riding's removal from the five-sport event.

The decision to remove the equestrian section was made after the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) executive board endorsed recommendations from its "innovation commission" during meeting in Monaco last week.

The change will come into effect after the 2024 Paris Olympics.

"The Innovation Commission was set up in 2016 to continuously monitor the composition of Modern Pentathlon and review its suitability for the Olympic Games in the context of Olympic Agenda 2020 and Olympic Agenda 2020+5 - the strategic roadmap of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)," the UIPM said in a statement.

"The EB [executive board] met virtually on October 31 and endorsed the Innovation Commission's recommendation that Riding be replaced with another discipline that enhances the popularity and credibility of Modern Pentathlon, while preserving its status as the ultimate physical and mental sporting challenge."

The organization did not confirm which discipline would replace horse riding, saying it "has opened a consultation process to identify a suitable replacement."

The UIPM told Insider earlier in the week that reports the new fifth discipline would be cycling are "untrue."

The change had been widely expected for several days after both Inside the Games and The Guardian reported that riding would be removed following the horse-punch incident.

Pentathletes are in uproar

After news of the change was leaked earlier this week, the current men's Olympic champion, Joseph Choong, said he would quit the sport if the removal of riding was to go ahead.

"It has been a shock to me. It is not nice to hear," said Choong. "If it changed to cycling, I wouldn't be in the sport. It would not suit me at all. I am sure a lot of athletes would feel the same.

"I feel sorry for the juniors who have come through the sport and started their riding lessons only to have it changed so drastically."

Samantha Murray, a three-time world champion pentathlete, told Insider prior to the official announcement that she believes the UIPM is taking the easy route out by removing horse riding, rather than dealing with issues around the welfare of horses in the sport that could and should be addressed.

Murray believes the authority could make some simple changes that would benefit both the horses and the athletes, including increasing the number of horses in each competition, and introducing minimum riding standards for athletes.


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