Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Modern Pentathlon – Women’s Riding – Tokyo Stadium – Tokyo, Japan – August 6, 2021. Annika Schleu of Germany in action REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
August 7, 2021
By Karolos Grohmann and Steve Keating
TOKYO (Reuters) – Germany’s modern pentathlon coach Kim Raisner will not be part of Saturday’s men’s individual competition at the Tokyo Olympics after she hit a horse with her fist and urged rider Annika Schleu to “really hit” the horse when it refused to jump.
The Modern Pentathlon federation (UIPM) said Raisner had been disqualified because of her actions during Friday’s show jumping.
Germany’s Olympic team chief Alfons Hoermann said earlier the coach had been pulled out of the men’s individual competition. He also demanded urgent rule changes from the international federation.
“We were all in agreement that the coach will not be at the competition on Saturday,” Hoermann said.
“We also consider that an urgent review of the incident is necessary, especially in terms of animal protection, and that the national and international federations draw their conclusions.”
Modern pentathletes, who compete in five different sports for a medal, do not use their own horses for the show jumping discipline but instead draw one at random and are given 20 minutes to warm up with it before competing.
Schleu was holding down top spot with a commanding 24 second edge on the field going into the show jumping when each competitor randomly draws a horse.
There were signs of trouble ahead as Schleu’s horse Saint Boy bucked and misbehaved during the warmup and soon after was refusing jumps.
With each refusal Schleu’s frustration grew, the German finally exploding with a scream that echoed through the empty stadium as tears poured down her face.
Her coach urged her to hit the horse. Raisner’s orders to “really hit it, hit,” were heard live back in Germany, triggering a wave of criticism.
Raisner herself punched the horse once above the back leg.
As Schleu became more desperate and frustrated, the horse became more agitated.
Top ranked Michelle Gulyas and Ireland’s Natalya Coyle suffered similar fates with their horses as they saw their own podium hopes crushed, dropping out of the top 10 and out of contention.
“Rules must change in such a way so that rider and horse are protected,” Hoermann said. “The focus must be on the welfare of the animals and the fair competition for athletes.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Michael Perry)