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Toyko 2020: German coach suspended for punching horse

August 7, 2021

Kim Raisner has been disqualified for striking a horse "with her fist." The incident occurred shortly after Saint Boy refused to take the course during Annika Schleu's bid for modern pentathlon gold.

Kim Raisner
Kim Raisner was told to leave the Olympics for punching a horseImage: picture alliance

Germany's modern pentathlon coach Kim Raisner was suspended on Saturday after punching a horse at the Tokyo Olympics.

The sports governing body, the UIPM, said Raisner was disqualified for "appearing to strike the horse Saint Boy... with her fist."

In Friday's women's competition in Tokyo, television footage picked up Raisner encouraging Annika Schleu to "properly" whip the horse as Saint Boy repeatedly refused to take the course.

She responded to her coach's instructions and duly whipped the horse, but it did not have the desired effect. The episode left Schleu distraught as her medal hopes drifted away before her teary eyes.

Annika Schleu
Annika Schleu was in tears as her horse refused to take the course in TokyoImage: Stanislav Krasilnikov/picture alliance/dpa/TASS

UIPM gives a 'black card' to Raisner

The UIPM said Raisner had been given a "black card... disqualifying her from the remainder of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games," by its executive board following a review of the video clip.

"Her actions were deemed to be in violation of the UIPM Competition Rules, which are applied to all recognized Modern Pentathlon competitions including the Olympic Games," a UIPM statement said.

On Saturday, Raisner was not present at the Tokyo Stadium for the men's event, with the German Olympic chief Alfons Hörmann saying it was the "best solution" to avoid "further question marks" about the coach.

Hörmann said this decision was a mutual one following discussions between Schleu, Raisner and Susanne Wiedemann, sport director of the German modern pentathlon federation.

How has the Schleu responded?

Schleu, who had been favored to win gold heading in to the competition, said she "didn't expect so much negative hate."

Following the incident, the 31-year-old athlete  deactivated her Instagram account.

Speaking with news agency dpa, Schleu described what happened in the moment when she realized that her horse was too panicked to take the course.

"Unfortunately in this stressful situation — while in first place at the Olympic Games — I perhaps more quickly lost my nerve and started to cry. I then tried to use the [riding] crop," she told dpa.

While she was disappointed with how she reacted, Schleu denied that she caused any harm to the horse.

"Of course I feel attacked when it's said that I [was] inhumane — when there are accusations of animal cruelty," she said.

"I handled the horse to the best of my ability. It was already clear one needed to be a little more firm, but I was at no time rough," the athlete said.

She added that she understood the criticism against her coach and that Raisner  "could have chosen her words differently" when instructing her to hit the horse.

What is the modern pentathlon?

As well as show jumping, the modern pentathlon consists of swimming, fencing, running and shooting.

A key element of the discipline, however, is riding an unfamiliar horse, with competitors given only 20 minutes to bond with their animal before embarking on their quest for Olympic glory.

Raisner was not the first German coach to become embroiled in a controversy during this year's Olympic Games.

Cycling sports director Patrick Moster was sent home and suspended until the end of the year after making a racist comment during the men's road time trial.

Rough ride — The cruelty of animal transports

jsi/csb (AP, AFP, dpa)