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German pentathlon coach thrown out of Tokyo Games for punching a horse

Kim Raisner was trying to assist German athlete Annika Schleu as she battled to control Saint Boy.

A German modern pentathlon coach has been thrown out of the Tokyo Olympics for punching a horse during competition.

Kim Raisner was trying to assist German athlete Annika Schleu as she battled to control Saint Boy ahead of her show jumping round in the women’s event on Friday.

Athletes are given only 20 minutes to bond with an unfamiliar horse before their round and Schleu, who had been leading the field, was in tears as she came into the ring.

Saint Boy, who had already proven a tricky ride for his first athlete, bucked and refused to trot around the course, with a number of people on social media raising concerns about the way Schleu and Raisner were treating the horse.

The world governing body for modern pentathlon, the UIPM, acknowledged those concerns ahead of the men’s event on Saturday and then issued a statement revealing Raisner’s punishment.

The statement read: “The UIPM Executive Board (EB) has given a black card to the Germany team coach Kim Raisner, disqualifying her from the remainder of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“The EB reviewed video footage that showed Ms Raisner appearing to strike the horse Saint Boy, ridden by Annika Schleu, with her fist during the riding discipline of the women’s modern pentathlon competition.

Annika Schleu did manage to start her round on Saint Boy but did not finish it and scored zero points
Annika Schleu did manage to start her round on Saint Boy but did not finish it and scored zero points (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Her actions were deemed to be in violation of the UIPM competition rules, which are applied to all recognised modern pentathlon competitions including the Olympic Games.

“The EB decision was made today at the Tokyo Stadium before the resumption of the men’s modern pentathlon competition.”

Raisner is a former modern pentathlete who competed at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Speaking later, UIPM president Klaus Schormann branded Raisner’s conduct “unbelievable” while placing the blame on the equine doctor who cleared Saint Boy to compete for a second round after Russia’s Gulnaz Gubaydullina had also scored zero points.

Schormann said: “Since the Olympic Games in Rio we had all these years, World Cups, world champs, and not a single situation like yesterday.

“We know when the Russian lady had her situation, most of us we thought the horse is not able to go for the second round. Then it was a surprise when we saw the horse coming in with Annika.

“I won’t talk about the behaviour of the trainer, which was unbelievable, unacceptable, and therefore we have given the black card and we will have other investigations.

“The judges and the main people who are responsible are from equestrian sport. Kim Raisner protested that they don’t want to take the horse. Annika was riding in the warm-up without any problems, only when the horse came down and saw the arena, then this trauma came back to the horse.

“We have not understood how it was possible the horse doctor has accepted to use the horse again.”

Annika Schleu's gold medal hopes fell apart in the show jumping ring
Annika Schleu’s gold medal hopes fell apart in the show jumping ring (Mike Egerton/PA)

Schormann defended his sport’s handling of the situation, saying: “Nobody has to ask us, we are acting not reacting. We know how to handle our sport properly.

“It’s a question as well of training our athletes but Annika is one of our best riders and the Russian lady as well. We are very sorry for both athletes.”

Britain’s Joe Choong, who won gold in the men’s event, believes pentathlon training should focus more on improving the standard of riding.

He said: “I think the countries should put more resources into becoming better riders. I’m not from a horse background myself but the girls from Britain came into the sport through Pony Club eventing and they’re fantastic riders.

“You saw in the test jumping, they were all capable horses when ridden professionally. I think it’s just closing the gap between some of the pentathlete riders and proper riding and how to deal with well-trained horses.”

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