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 showjumping 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.
German modern pentathlon coach Kim Raisner disqualified for punching her athlete’s horse
Germany’s Annika Schleu failed to control her horse Saint Boy in the showjumping round
Raisner (right) was then seen punching the back of Saint Boy as Schleu was struggling
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.
Saint Boy did not go around the course and Raisner was seen punching the horse with her first
Schleu, who was leading the field, was in tears after going around the course with Saint Boy
‘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.
Schelu’s horse appeared spooked before and after entering the arena, and aimlessly made his way around the challenging course while refusing several jumps.
Despite holding a 24-second lead, Schleu fell out of medal contention after the equestrian leg
Coverage seemingly showed an emotional Schleu, 31, in floods of tears before even beginning her performance. While on top of her mount, she looked to get the panicked Saint Boy to co-operate using her whip.
Having then made their way into the arena, Schleu set about attempting to salvage her dreams of a podium finish. However, despite the horse clearing four sets of hurdles to begin with, he then collided with the fifth.
That brought a rapid end to her lead, and Saint Boy then buckled despite Schleu looking to guide him around the course for another go. In the end, she was made to finish with zero points, leaving her rock bottom.
Having narrowly missed out on a medal in Rio 2016, after finishing fourth, Schleu was again left devastated. Her tears were broadcast for all to see as Saint Boy jumped around, remaining alarmed and in no fit state to compete.
Samantha Murray, a silver medallist, believes that the performance was down to ‘rider error’
She had held the equivalent of a 24-second advantage after the fencing and swimming legs, but fell out of contention for silverware for the laser round.
Samantha Murray, an Olympic silver medallist and world champion, believes that the nightmare nature of the performance came about largely due to ‘rider error’.
‘When you try to break it down, you can see that it’s largely rider error, the mistakes,’ she said. ‘I think she was quite put off, because when this horse first went into the arena in the first round, she was eliminated on this horse.
‘That probably set a bit of a panic off with this athlete. So when she would have got on this horse, she would have been a bit stressed. That transcends into the horse. Horses can’t see the rider, they can only feel you when you’re on top.
‘You need composure, and you need to be very decisive with what you’re going to do when you’re riding.
Schleu looked dejected during the rest of the event, and Team GB’s Kate French clinched gold
Schleu’s failings in the showjumping leg helped Team GB’s Kate French claim Olympic gold
‘In the moments when she was crying and panicking, I understand why she was like that, but you just wish she’d let the reins loose a bit and rode more with her leg. Really give the horse as much positivity as possible, ride forward, encouragement.
‘You saw, when she came to the fences correctly, the horse jumped. When she came on the wrong stride, not quite there, not quite close enough, the horse stopped, because the horse was losing confidence all the way through that.
‘These horses need to feel as confident as possible with you, an unknown rider to them.’
The chaos saw Great Britain’s Kate French claim gold, in what is Team GB’s first triumph for 21 years in the event.