RIDING will be dropped from the Olympic sport of Modern Pentathlon by the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games, the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) confirmed on Thursday.
The historic move comes after the UIPM Executive Board unanimously endorsed a series of recommendations made by the UIPM Innovation Commission.
The discussion began after distressing scenes in the show jumping arena at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and the UIPM have now opened a consultation process to identify a suitable replacement for the sport of horse riding.
Modern Pentathlon athletes say they were not consulted in the decision and have begun a #savepentathlon campaign on social media, with hundreds of athletes having their say.
Ireland’s three-time Olympian Natalya Coyle is “deeply saddened” following the news. She commented: “The Tokyo Olympics was very difficult for me due to what transpired during the horse riding event, however, this is the sport I love and have competed in since I was a teenager.
“It is my understanding that the UIPM are under considerable pressure to eliminate the horse riding event. Post-Tokyo a working group was set up in recognition that the horse riding event needed to improve but in the quality of the riders and the safety and welfare of the horses.
“I believe time should be afforded to the sport to implement these changes needed.
“To have had no athlete consultation before fundamentally changing the nature of the sport is incredibly disappointing. I am deeply saddened for the athletes who have invested so much in this great sport and are now faced with having to incorporate a completely new yet unknown element into their preparation for the Olympic Games in 2028.”
Tokyo gold medallist, Britain’s Kate French, took to social media. “I am personally heartbroken that our international federation has made the decision to remove horse riding from Modern Pentathlon,” she said.
“We acknowledge that changes needed to be made to the riding to improve the standard and safety but eliminating or replacing any of the events from Modern Pentathlon is not the solution.
“Each of the five events are as important as each other. This is what makes the sport so special.
“My love of horses is what started my journey into Modern Pentathlon. The sport I love will soon be consigned to history.”
The equestrian discipline of show jumping has been ever-present in Modern Pentathlon since the multi-sport was created by Coubertin, the pioneer of the Modern Olympic Games, and introduced to the world at Stockholm 1912.
Swimming, fencing, running and shooting have also been retained throughout the past 11 decades, although the last two disciplines were merged to create the Laser Run combination.
In a press release, UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “On behalf of the UIPM Executive Board I ask our global community to embrace change and grasp the momentous opportunity before us. A new discipline will provide fresh impetus to our sport and strengthen the position of Modern Pentathlon within the Olympic movement.”
UIPM 1st Vice President and IOC Member, Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, added: “This is a very important moment for Modern Pentathlon – and actually for the Olympic programme. We would be making a mistake if we were to take our place in the Olympic programme for granted past Paris 2024.
“It is not granted for us, it is not granted for anybody.”
All changes resulting from the consultation process will be implemented in time for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games, only coming into force after Paris 2024.
The UIPM said the consultation process will be inclusive of specific stakeholder groups, namely athletes and coaches as well as media and marketing partners.