The scandal with the exclusion of equestrianism from modern pentathlon reaches its climax. The IOC demands that this issue be resolved as quickly as possible, because otherwise the pentathletes simply will not go to Los Angeles in 2028. The UIPM is ready to do anything to stay in the Olympic family, but the athletes are against being deprived of their equestrian form. Rio 2016 Olympic champion Alexander Lesun in an interview with MK-Sport told why even Annika Shloy, who was injured in Tokyo, wants to leave her horse, and why this whole story is just an excuse.
– Alexander, on Friday, November 12, there was a teleconference of athletes with the executive committee of the International Union of Modern Pentathlon, where it was planned to just hear the opinion of athletes on reforms in the sport. Did you manage to clarify something?about:blank
– And nobody understood anything! We listened for almost three hours, tried to ask questions, although the microphones were periodically turned off. But as a result, they did not receive any answers. They tried to tell us how they see the pentathlon in Los Angeles. But the most surprising thing is that we did not understand how. Either just a four-event, or a pentathlon without a horse, but with something else. Either with a horse. They only understood that “we are one family and must consolidate.” It sounded two hundred times, but it didn’t sound how to consolidate. We, athletes, decided for ourselves to exhale for now, discuss and wait.
– The situation is strange and confusing. Help me to understand. It is impossible to beat animals, it is indisputable. But now the whole story is based on the fact that the coach of the German team, Kim Reisner, hit the horse’s rump with her fist, but the rider, according to the rules, can use spurs (there is no other way to ride a horse!) And can use the whip twice …
– Twice on one straight line.
– Here, even more so. That is, three times is impossible, but two times is possible. Some kind of double standards. It is one thing to break the rules, and another to exclude an equestrian sport from the sport on the basis of one violation of the rules and allegations of ill-treatment.
– The rules are changed every year. The trainer really cannot touch the horse when it is out. But there were problems, the horse got stuck. In order to prevent such situations from happening, horse training was previously held. The International Federation has somehow tried to train both juniors and adults. And now the overall level of the horse in the world has dropped. And that says a lot. But thanks to this incident, the problems of the International Federation of Modern Pentathlon were revealed.
– It just looks like the IOC is simply not interested in modern pentathlon, so it suddenly set such tough conditions: either exclude horse riding, or we will exclude you from the 2028 Olympic program. For example, artistic gymnastics has been rocked by scandals for many years, the loudest of which is child abuse on the US national team. But even if the talk about the exclusion of this sport sounds, it is quiet, and no one takes them seriously. Maybe the point is that artistic gymnastics brings money, but pentathlon does not?
– Everything is correct. I don’t presume to argue, but it seems that it’s not about sports at all. But here you need to understand that a sport can bring money if it is developed. Federation President Klaus Schormannhas been in this post for 28 years. Everything develops, develops, but I do not see any changes. The UIPM could see how our federation, the Russian one, conducts the competition. Over the years, it was possible to find worthy sponsors. After all, this is a very beautiful sport! Athletes from other species ask me why we don’t know you. Because our international federation is not working! There is no normal TV, media. I understand that Schormann has not been able to come to an agreement with the IOC for many years. Why then is he needed if he is not able or does not want to fulfill his direct responsibilities? There are many species in the Olympic program that are less watchable than we are, but they are evolving! I have already cited biathlon many times, which was approximately at our level, but where is biathlon now, and where is modern pentathlon?
– Is modern pentathlon really so popular in Russia?
– Yes, in Russia, Hungary, England. This year we hosted the European Championship in Nizhny Novgorod and the President’s Cup in Moscow. So the most interesting thing is that people really come on horseback! And also on the laser run. These are the two most popular types. Many children are brought to our sport so that they learn to communicate with a horse.
– By the way, the Olympic champion Joe Chung said that the uniqueness of pentathlon is that it is not only about strength and speed. And also the talent and ability to negotiate with the animal.
– First, come to an agreement! Secondly, the ability to quickly and clearly make decisions when you are sitting on a horse. Today the horsemen wrote to our general chat: the equestrian form is endurance, strength, discipline, coordination. What other sport can replace the horse? Therefore, you cannot clean up!
– There is an opinion that even Vyacheslav Aminov, President of the Russian Federation of Modern Pentathlon, voiced that horse riding is the most problematic sport for an athlete. The horse is determined by a random lot, and if an obstinate one is caught, like Annicke Shloy in Tokyo, then the athlete is deprived of the medal just like that. And this is insulting.
– I am in touch with international athletes all the time. And everyone, even Annika Shloy, says that we must leave the horse. Because this is our highlight, because in pentathlon, as we have already said, an athlete must be able to negotiate with a horse, with luck. We just have to look for other ways of development – to improve the system of training horses and people. Athletes are boiling right now, especially English-speaking ones. Everyone is upset. And we are ready for changes. Our federation has already proposed to reduce the route, to reduce the number of jumps, that it is necessary to improve the training of both people and horses, in the end. But they don’t listen to us, and they don’t ask the athletes. After all, there is no guarantee that the sport will not be thrown out even after giving up riding. And exclusion from the Olympic movement is death for the pentathlon.
– Is it not an option to do, as in equestrian sports, to have your own horses?
– It is very, very expensive, and many federations will not cope. In addition, you need to come to the starts in advance with your horse, somewhere you need to go through quarantine. The riders come to Europe, give them a run for two or three weeks, and then went to competitions across the continent. They don’t come back. That is, the calendar will also need to be changed.
– It turns out that if the stumbling block is poor treatment of animals, then we need to better prescribe the rules and improve the training of the horses themselves. And if it is still a matter of unpopularity in the world or in relation to the IOC, how to proceed?
– The format of the competition has been constantly changing precisely for the sake of popularization. There were good decisions, the same laser-run is an excellent decision, the sport has really become more spectacular. Another thing is that the decision was also made in such a way that no one was asked. Let’s use our traditions, because we were created by Pierre de Coubertin . This is an officer’s, a very beautiful sport. You swim, then you put on white and fence, then red and black boots, you ride a horse – it’s beauty! You just have to be able to wrap it up in the right packaging.
– If you prepare for the worst, and imagine that the pentathletes failed to defend their right to horseback riding. That it was not possible, as the Danish Federation is trying to do now, to legally prove the illegitimacy of the decisions. Then who will go to Los Angeles in 2028? Will Olympic-level athletes be able to switch from horses to bicycles in seven years?
So not even a bicycle is the main offer. This is so, they just threw the fishing rod. Among the proposals for replacement there are many absurd, for example, surfing, which surprised me especially. The bike is okay, it’s pure functionality. Whoever knows how to swim and run will learn to ride. But then how will we differ from triathlon? From the technical aspects, only fencing will remain. And where is the guarantee that it will not be thrown away soon? And not replace, for example, with an obstacle course? In general, such a decision will lead to a large number of broken lives of athletes. Those who were supposed to go to the 2028 Games.