Lorraine Jackson reports that the IOC has voted to eliminate Wrestling from future Games, shocking many who believed that Modern Pentathlon was the frontrunner for elimination.
Modern Pentathlon Stays, Wrestling Goes
The most obscure of the Olympic Equestrian Sports has been granted another chance at gold medal glory in 2020, Olympic officials are saying. The Modern Pentathlon was considered a front runner to be eliminated by the IOC in future events, despite its 100 year presence in the Games. Instead, IOC members voted, by secret ballot, to eliminate wrestling from the list of 25 “core sports”.
The decision will definitely be controversial: Wrestling attracted athletes from 71 countries, while Modern Pentathlon only 23. Wrestling is a standard NCAA sport, and was an original sport in not only the first modern Olympics, but the Greek Olympics as well. Wrestling will now be pitted against seven other sports, from which one would be chosen to included in the 2020 games. So while wrestling still has a chance, the Associated Press stated that it is “extremely unlikely” that wrestling would be brought back so soon after being removed from the core sports.
Modern Pentathlon was first introduced to the Olympic Games at the 1912 Stockholm Games, and was an invention of French baron Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the modern Olympic movement. It was intended to be the ultimate military man test, combining the skills of fencing, show jumping, swimming, running, and shooting. But outside the obscure Olympic hopefuls of the sport, it has remained largely unknown by the general public.
Scrutiny of the sport was intensified at the London Olympic Games when several falls and questionable horsemanship made for great blooper reels (check out The Guardian’s here), and left many in the horse community feeling misrepresented and in some cases angry, including readers of Horse Nation. Combine that with concerns about viewer ratings, ticket sales, and international accessibility, and the Modern Pentathlon seemed almost a shoo-in for elimination. So how did they squeak by?
Voting is done by secret ballot, and thus left largely in the hands of a few subjective committee members. Critics of the system point out how emotional a tie to a particular sport or athlete can be, and perhaps that it’s even less warm and fuzzy than that.
According to the CBS New York station, the Modern Pentathlon may have had a lucky break thanks to Juan Antonio Samaranch, Jr., the son of the former IOC President and himself a member of the IOC board. He also happens to sit on the board of the Pentathlon’s governing body, and is a major advocate for a Madrid 2020 Olympic Games. He has many motivations for lobbying to preserve the sport, and it would appear that this time, he was able to do just that.
About the Author
Lorraine Jackson grew up on a ranch in central Utah where she had more chores than friends, but having horses made it all worth it. She learned to ride under the great tutelage of her mother, the United States Pony Club, and her local 4H Horse Program Chapter. When she was 16, she took her BLM adopted mustang Ralphy to the National Wild Horse and Burro All Around Youth Finals. She took time away from horses to get a degree, go to work, and get married, but now enjoys writing about horses as much as riding them. You can follow her bizarre ramblings on horses, places, ideas, and corn dogs at www.lorraineinspain.com.