Frankfurt/Main In Paris 2024 with riding again, after which the modern pentathlon is to be restructured. The search for a new fifth discipline should not be easy. There is mockery in the media.
Despite the abolition of riding after the 2024 Games in Paris, the modern pentathlon continues to fight for its Olympic future.
But instead of quickly creating clarity about a successor to the show jumping, which has been controversial since the Tokyo Games, the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) has initiated a complicated process to find a suitable replacement.
First, after several media reports, cycling should follow, but the replacement has not yet been decided. According to the World Association’s announcement, several criteria have been established, including the requirement of “the perfect athlete” formulated by inventor Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
Mockery for UIPM decision
There was direct ridicule in the international media, especially for the abolition of the traditional discipline. “Whatever takes the place of riding, it will no longer be a modern pentathlon,” wrote the Hungarian daily “Nepszava” in a comment. The paper also sneered that one could also take up skat or poker if it was all about environmental protection and the comfort of the athletes. “It would be a cost-effective competition, one hall, a few tables and chairs would be enough,” said the newspaper.
With its decision, the international association also reacted to the events in Tokyo and the criticism that followed. There the German Annika Schleu caused a sensation. The then leader in the interim classification had not got along with the completely unsettled horse that was drawn to her, and had desperately used a whip and spurs. Schleu and national trainer Kim Raisner were heavily criticized and confronted with allegations of cruelty to animals. Nevertheless, UIPM President Klaus Schormann wanted to keep riding.
“We have to be flexible”
In view of the U-turn, the association wrote to the athletes: “We have to be flexible and once again adjust to changes.” For the sport exposed on the largest possible stage, it is also about keeping yourself in the Olympic program. The replacement for riding is to be used for the first time at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.
The UIPM President emphasized that cycling was not an option as a substitute discipline. “We have our ideas, but we won’t go public with them yet. Instead, we plan and advise carefully in working groups,” Schormann told the daily newspapers of the Rhein-Main publishing group. This process will last until the end of 2022, because it must also be tested in practice whether the sport fits into the competition format.
According to Schormann, the measures are not a reaction to the Olympic drama about Annika Schleu. “We took up this idea back in 2016 when we founded an innovation committee to modernize the pentathlon,” he said. The new discipline must also fit into the concept practiced for the first time in Tokyo of presenting the entire competition in a stadium.
The modern pentathlon has been fighting for Olympic survival for a long time and has had to change its regulations again and again. The combined competition of running and shooting with a laser pistol – as it existed in Rio and Tokyo – is such a concession and did not exist in Coubertin’s time. And the regulations for the 2024 Games in Paris are new and compressed to 90 minutes – but for the last time with the controversial riding.
“In the last few decades our sport has continued to develop in order to meet the changed expectations of the modern world,” commented Schormann. Shortly after the games, the functionary described the controversial show jumping as an “integral part of the modern pentathlon”.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 211104-99-872968 / 5