Second pentathlon gold for Britain, after showjumping phase of “welcome serenity”

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Joe Choong won gold for Britain in the men's modern pentathlon at Tokyo 2020, with Egypt's Ahmed Elgendy, left, taking the silver medal, and Jun Woongate from the Republic of Korea winning bronze.
Joe Choong won gold for Britain in the men’s modern pentathlon at Tokyo 2020, with Egypt’s Ahmed Elgendy, left, taking the silver medal, and Jun Woongate from the Republic of Korea winning bronze. © IOC/Nuno Gonçalves

Britain has added a second gold medal to its Modern Pentathlon haul at Tokyo 2020, with Joe Choong winning the men’s competition on Saturday, a day after teammate Kate French won women’s gold.

Before this, British men had not made the podium in the individual event at the modern pentathlon.

Egypt’s Ahmed Elgendy won the silver medal, and Jun Woongate from the Republic of Korea won the bronze.

» Comment: The modern pentathlon might need, for want of a better word, modernizing

Before the men’s event started, the Executive Board of the UIPM, the governing body of modern pentathlon, reviewed footage from the women’s riding phase on Friday, and gave a black card to the Germany team coach Kim Raisner, disqualifying her from the remainder of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The footage showed 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. Schleu had struggled to persuade her mount to start the round, and the horse then refused to jump.

Raisner’s 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.

» Update: Review of horse jumping phase under way

Britain's Joseph Choong with Clntino on the riding phase of the men's modern pentathlon.
Britain’s Joseph Choong with Clntino on the riding phase of the men’s modern pentathlon. © IOC/Nuno Gonçalves

The board decision was made at the Tokyo Stadium before the resumption of the Men’s Modern Pentathlon competition. Saint Boy was not among the horses available to riders.

After the drama of the women’s final, the UIPM said there “was a welcome serenity about the 36 rides that took place”. But competition was just as tough, with only three riders achieving the maximum score of 300 on the showjumping course — Gustav Gustenau Riding Aerosmith for Austria, Patrick Dogue on Pecora for Germany, and Martin Vlach riding Farome for the Czech Republic.

Jan Kuf (CZE), riding fifth from last, rode smoothly and moved into a strong position and then watched as Justinas Kinderis of Lithuania and Ilya Palazkov of Belarus struggled to complete the course.

Medals could have been won and lost, but Jinhwa Jung (KOR) and Choong both kept their heads and escaped any damage to remain the top two.

Riding Clntino, Choong, 26, had just one penalty in the jumping round to finish the phase with 286 points.

Choong went into the final laser-run combined discipline in the lead after completing the swimming, fencing and riding rounds to lead the field on 859 points. He set off 12 seconds ahead of the chasing pack on the laser-run in which athletes must complete four circuits shooting five targets from a distance of 10m within 50 seconds using a laser pistol, and running 800m.

Republic of Korea’s Jung Jinhwa (847), Czech Republic’s Jan Kuf (838) and Jung’s compatriot Jun Woongate (831) lined up behind him in the staggered laser-run, which is based on the points scored on the first three rounds. Choong’s teammate and former world champion Jamie Cooke was ninth overall still with a chance of making the podium in the combined laser-run event.

Russian athlete Alexander Lifanov riding Merlot Castillon on the riding phase of the men's modern pentathlon at Tokyo 2020. Lifanov finished 10th overall.
Russian athlete Alexander Lifanov riding Merlot Castillon on the riding phase of the men’s modern pentathlon at Tokyo 2020. Lifanov finished 10th overall. © IOC/Nuno Gonçalves

By the end of the first circuit, Choong’s lead had been cut in half by the Korean duo, with Kuf also in the mix.

Egypt’s Ahmed Elgendy had an incredible shoot on the third circuit, catching up with the chasing trio. By the fourth shoot, Elgendy had emerged ahead of the threesome even arriving at the range the same time as Choong. Elgendy was on the Brit’s shoulder leaving the last shoot and heading into the final 800m run, taking a brief lead before Choong engaged an extra gear to pull away in the final moments to claim gold.

Elgendy claimed silver, the first modern pentathlon medal won by an African athlete at an Olympic Games. World No.1 Choong, meanwhile, laid to rest the ghost of Rio 2016 when he started the event in the silver medal position but ended up off the podium.

» Results

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