Dear MPA members and fans of Modern Pentathlon,
Given the recent completion of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the controversy surrounding our sport at the Games, I wanted to take this opportunity to write to you all.
Firstly though I want to congratulate our Australian representatives Ed and Marina who represented Australia with pride. Just getting to these Games was tough for everyone and it was great to see both our athletes compete to their best, and smile throughout the entire day! It was also fantastic to see all disciplines of the sport completed in one venue for the first time at an Olympic Games.
Of course what cannot go unmentioned is the controversy that has erupted after the horse riding section of the women’s event. In Australia we pride ourselves on our ability to ride safely and skillfully, and both Ed and Marina certainly displayed this in Tokyo.
However, despite a strong and willing pool of horses, many of the athletes displayed an extremely poor level of horsemanship. This was exhibited for the world to see with the performance of the competition pre-Ride leader, and her coach. Immediate sanctions were put in place by the UIPM at the time but more needs to be done long term to ensure the safety and well being of all our athletes and horses. The sport has been ‘exposed’ to the world in a way that none of us would want and the spotlight on Modern Pentathlon at all levels will remain until something is done to ensure this never happens again.
Over recent years the UIPM has tried several ways to raise the standard of riding ability including introducing UIPM funded riding camps. They have also introduced the concept of a riding licence – something that in Australia we adhere to extremely strictly in our events.
The UIPM has issued a statement saying that they will be looking into this situation as a matter of priority. I have been in daily contact with the UIPM office emphasising the importance of our response to this situation. We have received many emails to MPA that we are responding to. With the introduction of a new format for 2024, some of the criticisms of the riding component will be addressed but more will need to be done. There is also now the issue of how we regain the confidence within our domestic landscape to ensure we are able to loan horses for our events moving forward.
While with our strong pony club alignment, we have every confidence in our own riders, MPA will retain its very strict adherence to requirement of validated riding licences at all events and will only allow those eligible to ride.
Like you all, I am extremely disappointed and upset at what has happened. We now need to work together to ensure we regain the confidence in our sport to enable us to continue its growth and development within Australia and Oceania.
Kitty Chiller AM