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HomeSportPentathlon change leaves Choong uncertain of future

Pentathlon change leaves Choong uncertain of future


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Joe Choong won his first Olympic gold in the men’s individual modern pentathlon event in Tokyo in 2021Date: Sunday, 27 August Times: Women’s final 10:15-12:30 BST; Men’s final 15:15-17:30 BST Venue: BathCoverage: Watch live on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website & the BBC Sport App.Olympic champion Joe Choong says he is undecided on his modern pentathlon future with the event’s inclusion at the Games under threat.Showjumping will be replaced by obstacle racing after Paris 2024, with the sport’s place at the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 yet to be confirmed.”I haven’t decided what route I want to take,” the 28-year-old told BBC Sport.Choong is defending his title at the World Championships in Bath, the finals of which are live on the BBC on Sunday.”If we’re not in the Games, that makes the decision a bit easier in terms of moving on,” Choong added.”That’s the major motivation to do the sport.”Athletes ‘not listened to’The event’s format change, announced in 2021, was hailed as a “historic move” by the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM), but it was met with hostility by competitors.David Armstrong, then chair of Pentathlon GB, labelled the decision a “sad day for modern pentathlon”.Choong, who won gold in the men’s individual event at the delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021, said the process of change “wasn’t done in a way that actually listened to the athletes” and has admitted to considering other ventures post-Paris.”I’ve been doing some extracurricular activities outside of sport – public speaking training and other bits like that,” he said.Potential reprieve for horse riding?With the sport yet to be ratified as an official Los Angeles 2028 event, Choong wonders if missing out on Olympic inclusion could garner support for showjumping’s return.”If the decision to include obstacles doesn’t get us back into the LA 2028 Games, there might be another push to retain the horse riding,” he said.”I’m conjecturing at the moment; I don’t know what’s going to happen. But there’s still a bit of discontent about how the sport is being run.”Why obstacle racing is ‘a brilliant showcase’Choong’s former team-mate Jamie Cooke retired last year and the former world and European champion, 32, is now working as a coach.Having watched some of the test events that have taken place at junior championships, he believes the inclusion of obstacle racing instead of showjumping should not affect the sport’s credibility.”It’s not gimmicky,” Cooke said. “When you see the athletes in full flight it makes you appreciate the beauty, poise, skill and agility of humans. Fans realise their athleticism and the challenge they have to overcome.”Obstacle racing is a global sport which will increase accessibility to modern pentathlon and gives young athletes the opportunity to be the best they can be. It’s a brilliant showcase.”Modern pentathlon was established a long time ago to test the most complete athlete, and over the last 100 years this beautiful sport has had to adapt and evolve.”It features warrior athletes who are there to be tested physically, mentally, technically and tactically, and obstacle racing provides the same test.”UIPM president Klaus Schormann added: “Modern pentathlon has always been a sport that tests your body in different ways and it has modernised with the wishes of young people.”‘Home comforts’ on offer in BathChoong’s individual silver at the European Games in Poland this year secured a quota place for GB at next year’s Olympics, virtually ensuring his appearance in Paris.With that in mind, Choong – who trains in Bath – is relishing the chance to “enjoy a home crowd and home comforts” this week.Showjumping will feature on the programme, just as it will at the 2024 Games for the final time, with fencing, swimming and a combined laser run event completing the event.Choong, who won the world title last year in Egypt, is joined in the British men’s squad by Myles Pillage, Charlie Brown and Ross Charlton.Olivia Green and Jessica Varley, who helped Britain win team gold last year, will also be in action. Kerenza Bryson, who has won a World Cup race this season and Emma Whitaker, named best junior female pentathlete in 2022, complete a strong individual line-up.Guy Anderson and Sam Curry will race in the men’s relay event, while Alex Bousfield and Gina Speakman will represent the hosts in the women’s equivalent, with a mixed relay team to be confirmed.The BBC will show live coverage of the men’s and women’s finals on its digital platforms on Sunday, 27 August, starting from 10:15 BST.

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