Joe Choong expects ‘mass walkout’ after Paris following modern pentathlon change

By Sports Desk June 01, 2023

Joe Choong is set to quit modern pentathlon after defending his Olympic title next year, expecting to be part of a widespread exodus amid a controversial change being pushed through.

A decision by the International Modern Pentathlon Union to replace show jumping with obstacle course racing was endorsed by national federations but caused dismay among athletes, including Choong.

The new structure of the sport – also comprising fencing, swimming and a combined running and shooting event – is awaiting the International Olympic Committee’s approval for inclusion at the 2028 Games.

But Choong, alarmed at how the switch has been handled by the sport’s governing body, is resigned for his swansong to be at Paris 2024 – and the 28-year-old suspects he will not be alone in walking away.

He told the PA news agency: “Paris will be a great way to round off my career because I expect it will be the last time I compete in pentathlon. I think there will be a mass walkout from the sport.

“We’re not just talking about people my age who are in their mid-to-late 20s, but 21 or 22-year-olds will suddenly see this chance to go to an Olympics as their last chance before they decide to retire.

“I think that’s the feeling amongst the community and it will be hard to see where the sport goes, what the next top athlete looks like with obstacle course racing in the picture.

“The athletes’ voice as a whole was pretty much completely ignored. The politics pushed through whatever they wanted. After Paris, we’ll see what happens but I don’t think I’ll be taking part in it.”

Modern pentathlon’s image was rocked two years ago when a German coach was witnessed punching a horse that refused to jump a fence at the Tokyo Games, prompting the removal of equestrianism by the UIPM.

Show jumping remains one of the events for Paris 2024 but modern pentathlon faces a battle to be included at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles, with the UIPM admitting the sport needs to modernise.

Choong, who in Tokyo became the first British male to win individual Olympic gold in the modern pentathlon, accepted some rules could be modified so the sport becomes a “bit snappier”.

But such is his opposition to the proposed changes, Choong has thought about swapping lanes.

He said: “I would definitely want to stay competitive at something. Fencing is something I’ve dipped my toes in slightly over the last two years.

“That’s partly been an effort to improve my fencing for pentathlon but at the same time, it’s like that addictive nature where I’m back to being one of the chasers, I’m not at the top of the sport anymore.

“It sounds weird but I absolutely loved coming 64th or something at one of my first competitions.

“I’ll definitely be going back to that and seeing if I can push the boundaries, slightly, on fencing or maybe one of the other sports in pentathlon and see how far I can push one of those sports compared to what’s expected of a normal pentathlete.”

Choong’s more immediate focus is on next month’s European Games in Krakow, where he could complete his gold medals haul after adding to his Olympic success by triumphing at last year’s World Championships.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Joe Choong MBE (@joechoong123)

 

Choong admitted fulfilling a life goal in Tokyo meant he struggled to adjust afterwards but the prospect of competing at a third Olympics next year is sharpening his focus.

He added: “You see people like Adam Peaty and Max Whitlock, they talk about having that hunger for the sport and sometimes it’s not quite there.

“I took a lot of time out after the Tokyo Games because you need a reset. To then go on and win the World Championships off the back of a slightly disjointed year almost compounded that feeling of ‘what’s next?’ and finding the why.

“Having had a couple of years to refocus, I’m very hungry to go and do it all again.”

Related items

  • Noah Lyles sprints to victory at USA National Championships, secures spot in 2024 Paris Olympics Noah Lyles sprints to victory at USA National Championships, secures spot in 2024 Paris Olympics

    Noah Lyles, the reigning world champion, secured his place at the 2024 Paris Olympics with a stunning victory in the 100m dash at the USA National Championships on Sunday. Clocking in at a blistering 9.83 seconds (0.4), Lyles dominated the field at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, demonstrating his readiness to chase Olympic gold.

    Lyles only previous Olympic medal was a 200m bronze from Tokyo, but he heads to Paris bolstered by his remarkable achievements at the World Championships in Budapest last year, where he won gold in the 100m, 200m, and the 4x100m relay.

    Lyles was followed by Kenny Bednarek, primarily known for his prowess in the 200m, who finished with a personal best of 9.87 seconds. The 2022 world champion, Fred Kerley, took third place with a time of 9.88 seconds. Just missing out on the Olympic team, world indoor champion and 2019 world 100m gold medallist Christian Coleman finished fourth, clocking 9.93 seconds.

    The day was also marked by an extraordinary performance from 16-year-old Quincy Wilson. In the 400m semi-finals, Wilson shattered his own under-18 world record, lowering it from 44.66 seconds to an impressive 44.59 seconds, demonstrating his prodigious talent and setting the stage for an exciting future in athletics.

    In the women’s 400m, Kendall Ellis emerged victorious with a time of 49.46 seconds, followed closely by Aaliyah Butler (49.71) and Alexis Holmes (49.78), both of whom secured their places on the Olympic team.

     

  • Sha'Carri Richardson books spot at Paris Olympics with world-leading 10.71 at US trials Sha'Carri Richardson books spot at Paris Olympics with world-leading 10.71 at US trials

    In a stunning display of speed and focus, World 100m champion Sha'Carri Richardson secured her place at the 2024 Paris Olympics by winning the 100m at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday night. With a world-leading time of 10.71 seconds, Richardson dominated the competition, cementing her status as an early favourite for Olympic gold.

    Richardson's final at Hayward Field started with an intense stare-down, a marked departure from her exuberant salutes to the crowd in earlier heats. This newfound focus paid off spectacularly, as Richardson blazed down the track to clinch victory and her first Olympic berth.

    Joining her on the plane to Paris are training partners Melissa Jefferson and Twanisha Terry, who finished second and third with times of 10.80 and 10.89 seconds, respectively. Jefferson's time was a lifetime best.

    This victory marks a significant milestone in Richardson's career, especially after the disappointment of missing the Tokyo Olympics due to a suspension for marijuana use. She acknowledged the struggles she has faced, saying, "Everything I've been through is everything I have been through to be in this moment right now. There's nothing I've been through that hasn't designed me to sit right here in front of you to answer this question."

    Richardson's resurgence has been marked by notable achievements, including winning the 100m at the world championships in Budapest last summer with a personal best of 10.65 seconds. She also anchored the US 4x100 relay team to victory.

    Richardson's next goal is to qualify for the 200m. She enters the event with the third-fastest qualifying time, behind Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Gabby Thomas and 2024 NCAA champion McKenzie Long. The first-round heats for the women's 200m are scheduled for Thursday.

    Before Richardson's electrifying performance, Noah Lyles, the reigning world champion at 100m, ran his preliminary heat in 9.92 seconds, the fastest time in the first round of men's qualifying. Christian Coleman also advanced winning his heat in 9.99 while Fred Kerley ran 10.02 to also advance.

  • Sada Williams secures Olympic spot with dominant 400m win at Barbados National Championships Sada Williams secures Olympic spot with dominant 400m win at Barbados National Championships

    Two-time World Championship 400m bronze medallist Sada Williams has booked her place at the 2024 Paris Olympics with a commanding victory at the 2024 Dasani Powerade Barbados National Championships on Saturday night. Competing at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex just outside Bridgetown, Williams, the 2022 Commonwealth Games champion, showcased her class by cruising to victory in the 400m with a time of 51.36 seconds.

    Williams' performance was head and shoulders above her competitors. She finished more than two seconds ahead of Tiana Bowen, who clocked 53.67 for second place, and Kelia Bentham, who was more than five seconds back, finishing in 57.00 seconds. Despite the largely underwhelming performances across the board, Williams' victory has cemented her as the standout athlete likely to represent Barbados at the 2024 Paris Olympics this summer.

    In the men's 400m race, Desean Boyce emerged victorious with a time of 46.25 seconds, narrowly beating Rahee Taitt-Best, who finished second in 46.58. Jahlee Armstrong completed the podium, coming in third with a time of 46.85 seconds.

    The blue-riband 100m sprints saw thrilling finishes in both the men's and women's categories. Mario Burke triumphed in the men's 100m, clocking 10.38 seconds into a headwind of 1.3m/s, edging out Kuron Griffith who finished a hair's breadth behind at 10.39 seconds. Ajani Ince secured third place with a time of 10.44 seconds.

    On the women's side, Tristian Evenlyn claimed the national title by breaking Ashley Marshall's national record of 11.37 seconds, set in 2015, with a remarkable time of 11.30 seconds. Kishawna Niles took the silver medal in 11.51 seconds, while Aniya Nurse finished third in 11.72 seconds.

    In the 100m hurdles, Adeyah Brewster became the national women's champion by winning the event in 13.60 seconds. She was followed by Ayanna Morgan, who clocked 13.84 seconds, and Makyla Smith, who finished in 15.99 seconds.

    Williams' stellar performance in the 400m has not only earned her a spot in the upcoming Olympics but has also reinforced her status as one of Barbados' premier athletes. As the nation looks ahead to the Paris Games, Williams' achievements will undoubtedly serve as a source of inspiration and pride.

     

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.