TOKYO — The coach of Germany’s modern pentathlon team was kicked out the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday for, of all things, punching a horse.
Kim Raisner was caught on camera slugging the horse and urging rider Annika Schleu to “really hit” her mount after it balked at jumping during a pivotal moment in Friday’s competition.
At that point Schleu was in the lead — she went from first to 31st and left the arena in tears because the horse, whose name is “Saint Boy,” would not budge.
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Still, that was no excuse for her coach’s behavior, the Modern Pentathlon Foundation (UIPM) said in a statement early Saturday.
“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,” it said.
“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.”
Raisner was not part of the team’s efforts on Saturday.
Germany’s Olympic team chief, Alfons Hoermann, said earlier the coach had been pulled out of the men’s individual competition. He also demanded urgent rule changes from the international federation.
“Rules must change in such a way so that rider and horse are protected,” Hoermann said. “The focus must be on the welfare of the animals and the fair competition for athletes.”
“We also consider that an urgent review of the incident is necessary, especially in terms of animal protection, and that the national and international federations draw their conclusions.”
The modern pentathlon is a venerable Olympic sport that dates back to 1912 and sees athletes compete in five different events — fencing, freestyle swimming, equestrian show-jumping, pistol shooting and cross-country running.
The athletes don’t get to choose their horse and they’re given just 20 minutes to warm up their mount and bond with the animal.
Evidently Schleu and “Saint Boy” failed to click.
Schleu had a commanding lead going into the show jumping but with each refusal the German’s frustration grew.
She finally exploded with a scream that echoed through the empty stadium as tears poured down her face. Her coach urged her to hit the horse, with Raisner’s orders to “really hit it, hit,” heard live back in Germany, triggering a wave of criticism.
Raisner herself punched the horse once above the back leg.
Top ranked Michelle Gulyas and Ireland’s Natalya Coyle suffered similar fates with their horses as they saw their own medal hopes crushed, dropping out of the top 10 and out of contention.
Great Britain’s Kate French won the gold.