Modern pentathletes oppose proposal to axe showjumping

SADDLEWORTH’S modern pentathlete Olivia Green and her boyfriend Joe Choong, the Olympic champion, are opposed to showjumping being replaced as one of the sport’s five disciplines.

They are among 667 past and present pentathletes to call on Klaus Schormann, president of the Union International of Modern Pentathlon (UIPM), and the organisation’s executive board to resign.

Athletes are furious they have not been consulted and describe 109 years of modern pentathlon as being “undermined”.

Schormann was reported as telling a German sports show that a decision had already been taken, but it would not be cycling.

Olivia Green -Credit – Virag Buza

The UIPM later produced a new statement saying it was “fully aware of the concerns voiced by current and former athletes relating to the executive board decision to replace riding in modern pentathlon” and promised an “open dialogue” with athletes to discuss what discipline could replace riding.

Olivia, the newly-crowned European Under-24 champion, said: “It has been a nightmare and all the pentathletes are fighting it.

“The UIPM has made a decision to drop showjumping, and none of the athletes are happy about it. Joe has done a lot to fight it.

“There is a meeting of the UIPM congress (a motion will be heard to remove riding) and hopefully they will decide not to take it out. We want it to stay.

“Hopefully the UIPM board will be overthrown and there will be a change of leadership.”

There have been issues raised about horse welfare culminating in well-publicised issues at the recent Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“There have been problems, but the UIPM have not dealt with them and let them spiral out of control,” explained Olivia.

Joe continued: “What has angered all athletes has been the secrecy and lack of transparency.

“The UIPM say pressure has been put on them by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but we have on record the IOC has not done that.

“It is not the IOC’s place to dictate the rules of a sport and we have asked the UIPM for evidence about how they made their decision.

“We hear one thing from the IOC and another thing from the UIPM.

Joe added issues about horse welfare were raised as far back as 2014 when athletes boycotted a World Cup event at Acapulco, Mexico, because horses allegedly had open wounds and were limping.

Competitors are also only given 20 minutes to get to know a horse before competing which is also far from ideal.

And only athletes who are in the top 36 in a competition get to do showjumping which again, Joe pointed out, does not help raise standards and for them to become better riders.

Olivia Green wins gold

The decision to remove riding as one of the five traditional modern pentathlon events, taken after its troubling problems during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, was made by the UIPM executive board.

In reaction, there was a storm of protest from within the sport over the imposition of such a ruling without any consultation taking place.

Britain’s 2000 Olympic bronze medallist Kate Allenby, one of the leading lights in the mass protest petition, told insidethegames the decision to remove riding from the programme had “changed the integrity of the sport that was dreamt up by Pierre de Coubertin”, a sentiment endorsed by Joe.

The roots of modern pentathlon can be traced to the ancient pentathlon, which included discus throw, javelin, long jump, the stadium-length race and wrestling. The ancient pentathlon was incorporated into the ancient Olympic Games in 708 B.C.

Pierre de Coubertin wished to include a combined sport into the programme of the modern Olympic Games and promote athletes who combine strength, technique and a strong personality. Inspired by the ancient pentathlon, he created the modern pentathlon.

The men’s modern pentathlon was included in the Olympic competition schedule back at Stockholm 1912, while the women’s category was added for the first time at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

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