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Thread: Tokyo Olympics

  1. #196
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    Teddy Riner

    Olympics-Judo-Riner shines even as Japan judokas win record gold

    By Tetsushi Kajimoto
    Posted on August 7, 2021



    TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese judokas achieved a record gold medal rush for the host country at the Tokyo Games, but it was France’s Teddy Riner who stole the show at the home of judo in the end.

    Of the 14 weight categories for the men and women, Japan won nine golds, a silver and a bronze in the individual contests in Tokyo – a record haul since judo became an Olympic event for men in 1964 and for women in 1992.

    However, the feeling of exaltation among Japanese judokas quickly faded after they suffered a shock loss https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sp...ent-2021-07-31 against Riner-led France 1-4 in the mixed team event on the final day of the judo contest.

    “This is the reality in the world. The world of judo is evolving fast,” Kosei Inoue, the head coach of the Japanese judo national team, told reporters.

    “I’m really frustrated as we ended up in the second place and couldn’t live up to expectations, although I’m the happiest man on earth to have worked with such wonderful athletes.”

    Japanese judokas have a big job to do if they want to outperform their Tokyo Games results at the Paris 2024, he added.

    Confronting Japan will likely be French judokas led by Riner, who plans to return to the mat for his fourth Games in his home country.

    The 32-year-old French heavyweight legend had to settle for the bronze medal https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sp...old-2021-07-30 after failing to win a third consecutive Olympic gold in the men’s +100kg individual contest against Tamerlan Bashaev of the Russian Olympic Committee.

    A win at Tokyo’s Budokan, the arena built to host judo’s debut at the 1964 Games, would have matched the record held by Japanese great judoka Tadahiro Nomura.

    Still, the French win in the team event helped bring Riner a tally of three golds and two bronze medals from his Olympics appearances. Riner said he was happy to win both bronze for the individual and gold for the team event.

    “It’s my third Olympic gold medal, my fifth medal at an Olympics. I think this is very, very… important to win here in the country of judo during the Olympic Games in Tokyo at the Budokan. It’s just amazing,” Riner told reporters.

    “This is a dream, we win the final (against the) Japanese team. Wow.”

    (Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Lincoln Feast)
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  2. #197
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    Olympic Sumo!


    Sumo scare? Riders say horses might be spooked by statue

    JAKE SEINER
    Tue, August 3, 2021, 8:36 AM·3 min read

    Britain's Harry Charles, riding Romeo 88, competes during the equestrian jumping individual qualifying at Equestrian Park in Tokyo at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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    KAMIYOGA, Japan (AP) — Equestrian jumpers aren't keen on surprises. Neither are the horses, and it takes years of training to keep them from getting spooked.

    Of course, no horse in Tuesday night's Olympic jumping qualifier had ever seen anything like obstacle No. 10.

    “As you come around, you see a big guy’s (butt),” British rider Harry Charles said.

    “There's a lot to look at,” Ireland's Cian O'Connor added.

    “It is very realistic,” echoed Israel's Teddy Vlock.

    Riders say a life-size sumo wrestler positioned next to the 10th obstacle on the 14-jump Olympic course may have distracted several horses in qualifying for the individual jumping final Tuesday night. A few pairings pulled up short of the barrier, accumulating enough penalty points to prevent entry into Wednesday's finals.

    The statue is positioned to the left of a jump placed in the corner of the arena. Hunched over and seemingly ready to attack, the wrestler is facing away from approaching riders, meaning that when they complete a sharp turn to take on the jump, the first thing horse and human see is the wedgie created by the wrestler's mawashi.

    “I did notice four or five horses really taking a spook to that,” Charles said.

    Most of the course’s hurdles are decorated with a distinctly Japanese feel — geisha kimonos, a miniature Japanese palace, taiko drums.

    None caught the eye quite like the sumo wrestler.

    Among the horses alarmed by the setup was France's Penelope Leprevost — a team jumping gold medalist in 2016. She wasn't sure if the wrestler specifically threw off her 12-year-old stallion, Vancouver de Lanlore.

    “Maybe," she said. "We tried to relax our horses in the turn, and maybe they’re surprised to see a vertical so close. I don’t know.”

    Vlock went 34th in the 73-horse field. After seeing others have issues, he and trainer Darragh Kenny of Ireland — also a competitor in Tuesday's field — made a point of trotting their horses to the 10th jump before beginning their runs so the animals could look it over.

    The hope was that familiarity would breed bravery.

    “It is very realistic,” Vlock said. "It does look like a person, and that’s a little spooky. You know, horses don’t want to see a guy, like, looking intense next to a jump, looking like he’s ready to fight you.”

    Vlock and Kenny both cleared the obstacle without issue. Kenny finished second with no penalty points and a time of 82.01, while Vlock fell short due to other issues.

    Of course, it's hard to know what's in a horse's head. Some riders chalked up the troubles to how close the jump was positioned to the turn. Others blamed the stadium's bright lights that also led to concern at jump No. 1.

    Medal hopefuls Scott Brash of Britain and Martin Fuchs of Switzerland believed cherry blossoms positioned on the other side of the jump were the more likely culprit.

    Whatever the cause, it's not surprising to Olympic veterans that there's drama around the park. The Games have a reputation among riders for flashy course design, including an oddly shaped jump at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 that caused similar consternation.

    “To be honest, you expect it in the Olympic Games," Brash said.

    And that's OK with them.

    “You know it’s going to be colorful coming here,” he added. "You know it’s going to be decorative. And it’s beautiful, you know? It’s fantastic. That’s what makes it a championship. If it was just plain old jumps, it’d be just like any other week.”

    ___

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    Didn't expect to see Sumo come up in the Tokyo Olympics
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  3. #198
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    About that Karate gold

    This is in regards to the vid I tried to share earlier here.


    Olympic martial artist knocks out opponent with kick, is disqualified from gold medal karate bout



    Iran's Sajad Ganjzadeh, left, was awarded the gold medal after Tareg Hamedi of Saudi Arabia left him unconscious with a high kick in the men's kumite 75-kilogram final. (Hedayatullah Amid/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
    By Glynn A. Hill
    August 7, 2021 at 4:53 p.m. EDT

    In the final bout of karate’s Olympic debut, jubilation turned to dejection for Tareg Hamedi of Saudi Arabia, whose first-minute knockout of Iran’s Sajad Ganjzadeh disqualified him in their gold medal contest Saturday.
    Get the latest news and results from the Tokyo Olympics
    Hamedi dominated in the early stages of the bout, which served as the final of the men’s kumite in the 75-kilogram division (about 165 pounds). He scored a three-point “ippon” (a technique considered to be a decisive blow) with a hooking kick less than 10 seconds into the fight and added a one-point “yuko” after he punched Ganjzadeh several seconds later.
    Almost a full minute in, Hamedi held a 4-1 lead.
    But just before that first minute expired, he connected on a high left kick to the head, sending Ganjzadeh to his back, unconscious.
    Hamedi hopped into a quick skip and thumped his chest. Ganjzadeh seemed to scream as he went to the mat, and as the official began counting down, two medics ran over to treat him.
    Ganjzadeh was motionless and medics placed an oxygen mask on his face before removing him on a stretcher. Hamedi, who initially seemed certain of victory — what would have been Saudi Arabia’s first Olympic gold medal in any sport — appeared apprehensive as officials conferred with each other.
    Moments later, Hamedi was disqualified for a hansoku, a serious violation of the rules. The NBC television broadcast said he had unleashed an unchecked attack, following through on his strike as a mixed martial artist would, which is considered too dangerous by Olympic karate standards. Ganjzadeh, who was informed of the decision when he regained consciousness, was awarded the gold medal, and Hamedi was given silver.
    Tareg Hamedi of Saudi Arabia was disqualified from the Olympic karate final event when he knocked out Iran’s Sajad Ganjzadeh on Aug. 7. (IOC)
    “I’m happy about the gold medal, but I’m sad that I had to win it like this,” Ganjzadeh later told reporters.
    Hamedi, who fell to his knees in tears after the decision, later held up his silver medal on the podium, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Ganjzadeh. After a series of photos, they embraced and Ganjzadeh raised Hamedi’s hand in the air. Turkey’s Ugur Aktas and Ryutaro Araga of Japan took the bronze medals in the event.
    “If you ask me if I agree or not, I disagree, of course, because I love the gold medal,” Hamedi said through an interpreter. “But I am satisfied with the level of performance I gave, and I accept their decision. I don’t have any objection. I think I played well. That’s all I can say.”

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  4. #199
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    Alas...China


    China boosts Olympic gold medal count by lumping in Hong Kong, Taiwan

    By Yaron Steinbuch
    August 10, 2021 11:46am Updated

    The Olympics may be over, but Chinese state media is still going for the gold.

    One of the communist country’s official outlets found a way to boost its nation’s second-place medal haul ahead of the leading United States, by including the medals won by Taiwan and Hong Kong in the tally, according to reports.

    China Central Television listed the nation as having 42 gold medals under their inflated and inaccurate count, three ahead of the 39 that the US took home, and four more than China alone really took home, the Free Beacon reported.

    The graphic circulated on Weibo, a local social media platform, according to the outlet.

    The US also beat China in the other medal counts by winning 41 silvers to 32, 33 bronzes to 18, and an overall tally of 113 to 88.


    China Central Television listed the nation as having 42 gold medals under their inflated and inaccurate count.
    AFP via Getty Images
    In addition to the news outlet, some Chinese social media users also clumped Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau on Weibo to give the enlarged “China” 42 golds, 37 silvers and 27 bronzes for a total count of 110, the Taiwan News reported.

    Weibo-circulated graphic showing China's inflated medal count.


    China’s inaccurate Olympic medal count circulated on Weibo.
    “Congratulations to the Chinese delegation for ranking first in gold medals and the total number of points,” they wrote.

    Last week, China Daily correspondent Chen Weihua posted of photo on Twitter of a tally showing the US ahead in the overall medal count — but behind China in gold.

    “U.S. media always finds a way to put [the United States] on top,” he wrote, the Free Beacon reported.


    The official and accurate Olympic medal count.
    The International Olympic Committee requires Taiwan, which the Chinese Communist Party claims is part of China, to compete as “Chinese Taipei.” Announcers referred to the country as “Chinese Taipei” to appease Beijing.
    We'll see how things go in 2022.
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  5. #200
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    Looking forward

    The Olympics steamrolled Tokyo activists. Now LA residents are bracing for a fight
    Protesters demonstrate outside the Japan National Stadium before the closing ceremony of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Photograph: Igor Belyayev/Tass
    Plans for 2028 will exacerbate housing crisis – and low-income residents have no voice in the matter, tenant activists say
    Liliana Michelena
    Sun 15 Aug 2021 04.00 EDT
    A few hours after the Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron at the fairly downbeat Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony, a group of about 50 people crammed the backyard of a Los Angeles bookstore to celebrate their own “Nopening Ceremony”.

    Under a banner that read “Olympics kill the poor”, local activists and scholars at the Echo Park venue took turns telling stories of Olympic-related displacement and gentrification they had witnessed in host cities past and present. The tales were meant to prompt the local residents in the audience to heed the warning: in a city like Los Angeles, already marked by a large unhoused population and a critical housing crisis, the 2028 Olympics may only exacerbate these problems.

    Just as Tokyo 2020 marked the end of the Olympiad, the meeting was the end of a cycle for anti-Olympics groups in Los Angeles, and the beginning of a new one. By their own timeline, they have only a couple more years to close the door on LA 2028. And while the specific strategies are still to be determined, they have not changed their general vision.

    “No to the Olympics is no,” said Leonardo Vilchis, co-founder of the tenants group Unión de Vecinos (the Neighbors’ Union). “We are not going to negotiate our defeat. Instead, we will act aggressively to stop things from happening.”


    As Los Angeles grapples with a critical housing crisis, activists warn that the Olympics will make things worse. Photograph: Rob Latour/Rex/Shutterstock
    Much of their strategy will be informed by the recent experience of Tokyo, where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) steamrolled opposition from local residents against the event. Under the contract to which the IOC, the city of Tokyo and the Japanese Olympic Committee agreed, people in Japan had no say on whether the event should go forward, nor any power to stop it in a case of changed circumstances, such as the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Up to 83% of respondents in a May 2021 survey by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said they didn’t want the Games to take place in Tokyo this year, a sentiment mostly driven by the pandemic.

    Los Angeles is poised to host the Games under the same rigid terms imposed in the host city contract, which was signed in 2017 without public engagement and turns over the major calls to the IOC.

    Vilchis sees similarities in the undemocratic nature of this imposition and is mostly concerned about the gentrification hosting the Games on those terms could sow. “It is people looking at the real estate, the government sweetening the deal and promoting these things supposedly for the benefit of a community that has no say in how this will impact them,” he said. Locally, his organization has been fighting such messaging in his neighborhood of Boyle Heights, where they have opposed coffee shops and art galleries purporting to “revitalize” the neighborhood.

    “They basically came to increase property value and push out businesses for our lower-middle-income neighbors,” he added. “In cities like ours, there is already a tendency to displace poor people, to sacrifice them for projects that are supposed to benefit them, and all of this is accelerated by the Olympics.”

    Cities bidding to host the Olympics often see them as boons to urban development, worldwide exposure and increased tourism revenue, a view endorsed by the IOC. That has proven not to be the case. In fact, costs tend to outweigh tangible benefits, and every Olympics since 1960 has gone over budget. With a conservative estimate of $15.4bn, Tokyo 2020 is already the most expensive Summer Olympics on record.

    Jonny Coleman, member of the NOlympics LA coalition, argues Angelenos are in a much more vulnerable place than the citizens of Tokyo.

    “The inequality here is way more extreme, and it’s a problem the city has been trying to handle – pointing rifles at people in tents in Venice Beach, changing the policy to criminalize homelessness, you can feel the pressure to do it,” he said.

    Harrison Wollman, press secretary for the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, said: “Los Angeles already has all the world-class stadiums, venues and infrastructure it needs to have a successful Olympics and Paralympics, so these upcoming Games won’t rely on any new developments.”


    The Los Angeles Chargers practice at SoFi Stadium, which is expected to host the 2028 opening and closing ceremonies. Photograph: Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times/Rex/Shutterstock
    The prospect of the Olympics has already opened doors for development projects. SoFi Stadium, the multibillion-dollar development in Inglewood expected to host the 2028 Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies, has been driving rents up and low-income tenants out. Since 2016, the predominantly Black and Latino area has been the target of landlords and real estate developers seeking to profit from the presence of SoFi and the forthcoming new LA Clippers arena.

    Across from the University of Southern California, Expo Park and the Banc of California stadium, a rent-controlled apartment complex is being demolished to make way for “the Fig”, a mixed-use development that will contain a hotel, student housing and residential housing. Citing a “need” for more hotels for the Olympics, the Los Angeles city council has approved taxpayer subsidies for the project.

    “People want to see sports, but when you come into town and cause a tornado of destruction, people are going to rethink how it’s all coming through,” said Abdul Hood, a delivery driver and a regular at LA Tenants Union meetings. “We’re just in the way. They don’t care about us and they let us know that by the way they treat us,” he said.

    “They need to stop planning around us and include us in the development plans,” he added. If not, he trusts the education of tenants and the articulation of similarly minded organizations across the city will “put a dent” in LA ’28. “We have a few years to battle with them.”

    By Coleman’s account, they have until 2023. Partnered with other community action groups such as LA Can, Street Watch and Unión de Vecinos, NOlympics LA is spearheading the citywide resistance, retelling the story of 1984 and the irregular process that landed the city the 2028 Games when it had been bidding for 2024.

    “The next couple of years are crucial to continue expanding our base,” he said. “The groundwork is being laid, the policy has to be set at a certain point, and then it becomes extremely difficult to push it out.”

    Coleman concedes that “there are still a few Olympic diehards” in LA politics, but he sees an opening with local elections looming and the impending departure of the mayor, a primary proponent of the LA 2028 bid.

    “I think they’ve seen what’s going on in Tokyo and maybe do not want to die on this hill and don’t want it to come back on them.”
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  6. #201
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    RIP Coach Buckie Leach

    I didn't know Coach Leach but I knew of him. My friends in the fencing circles have been posting memorials - they're shocked and heartbroken.

    Olympic Team Coach Buckie Leach Passes Away
    08/15/2021, 6:15PM CDTBY NICOLE JOMANTAS


    Coach Buckie Leach at the 2019 Senior World Championships with Nzingha Prescod, Jackie Dubrovich, Nicole Prescod and Lee Kiefer after the team's bronze medal win.

    Five-time Olympic Coach Buckie Leach.
    (Colorado Springs, Colo.) – USA Fencing is heartbroken at the loss of Anthony “Buckie” Leach (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) – one of the sport’s longtime Olympic coaches who led the U.S. Women’s Foil Team at the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.

    A 2013 inductee into the USA Fencing Hall of Fame, Leach passed away on Saturday night at the age of 62 following a motorcycle accident on a cross-country road trip after his return from the Tokyo Olympic Games.

    Leach is credited with building the U.S. Women’s Foil Team’s success over nearly 30 years, including four medals at the Senior World Team Championships, including the squad’s first Senior World title in 2018. He also coached more than a half dozen personal students to Olympic berths as well as foil fencers to Senior, Junior and Cadet World titles.

    Leach’s students reached new heights in any weapon for USA Fencing during the 1990s when Iris Zimmermann (Rochester, N.Y.) became the first U.S. fencer to win a Cadet World Championship in any weapon, taking gold at age 14 in 1995, followed by a Junior World title in 1999 and earning the first medal at the Senior World Championships for a U.S. fencer in any weapon with a bronze medal the same year. Zimmermann’s older sister, Felicia Zimmermann (Rochester, N.Y.), became the first U.S. woman to win the Overall Junior World Cup title and went on to compete in two Olympic Games, making her debut in 1996 and competing with Iris in 2000. Ann Marsh-Senic (Royal Oak, Mich.) earned a seventh-place finish at the 1996 Games with her Atlanta Games teammate, Suzie Paxton (Brooklyn, N.Y.), rising to a top-eight world ranking during her career.

    In 2000, Leach coached Team USA to a fourth-place finish at the Sydney Olympic Games, missing bronze by just two touches. The U.S. Women’s Foil Team avenged the loss in 2001, winning bronze with an all-star lineup that included the Zimmermanns as well as Marsh-Senic and Erinn Smart (Brooklyn, N.Y.) who would go on to win silver with Team USA at the 2008 Games.

    A coach at the Fencers Club from 2001-2016, Leach’s personal students also included two-time Olympian Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) who won gold at the 2011 Junior World Championships and became the first Black woman to win an individual medal at the Senior World Championships with her bronze in 2015.

    The U.S. Women’s Foil Team had its most successful quadrennium in history from 2017-21, earning three straight medals at the Senior World Championships, including gold in 2018, silver in 2017 and bronze in 2018. Last month, the squad narrowly missed the podium with Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.), Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.), Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.) and Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.) placing fourth at the Tokyo Games.

    After coaching his fourth Olympic Games in 2016, Leach joined the Notre Dame coaching staff beginning in the 2016-17 season. During his five seasons as an assistant coach at Notre Dame, Leach’s students won 12 individual medals at NCAAs, including five out of 10 possible gold medals in the individual foil events, with the Fighting Irish winning the team titles in 2017, 2018 and 2021. Among the athletes Leach coached in South Bend were U.S. Olympic Fencing Team members Kiefer, Massialas and Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.) Kiefer, who won Team USA’s first-ever Olympic title in women’s foil just three weeks ago, won four straight NCAA titles for Notre Dame with her final gold coming in 2017. Itkin claimed back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019 and earned bronze in Tokyo with the men’s foil squad. Massialas won silver at the 2018 NCAAs and competed in the women’s foil team event in Tokyo. Two-time NCAA individual medalist Amita Berthier also made her Olympic debut in Tokyo, competing for Singapore.
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  7. #202
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    The horse should get the medals

    Cruel and random modern pentathlon should replace horses with climbing
    The current format does not do athletes or animals justice. Replacing showjumping with climbing would be a solution


    Annika Schleu struggles to control Saint Boy during the showjumping event at the Tokyo 2020 modern pentathlon. Photograph: Iván Alvarado/Reuters
    Beau Dure
    Wed 18 Aug 2021 05.00 EDT

    Imagine training for countless hours for many years to reach the Olympics in rowing. You’re slotted into the pairs event. One hitch – your partner will be determined by random draw. You look over and see one of your rivals paired up with a world champion. Your partner, on the other hand, isn’t sure which end of the oar goes in the water.

    Perhaps the equestrian phase of the modern pentathlon, in which athletes are assigned mounts by draw from a pool of horses, isn’t quite so extreme. The horses should all be able to jump over things, at least, so organizers aren’t just borrowing animals from any family that likes to ride around a bit. They just haven’t had much time to bond with the athletes who are randomly assigned to them after they’ve finished fencing and swimming.

    But the disparity in allocated horses is vivid. In 2008, young American pentathlete Margaux Isaksen kissed her horse after a solid ride in Beijing. In Tokyo, coach Kim Raisner punched a horse that had brought German athlete Annika Schleu to tears as battled to control the animal, knowing she was about to fall from first to 31st.

    It wasn’t quite Mongo in Blazing Saddles, but the whipping and punching were certainly enough to make Peta call for modern pentathlon to leave things up to the humans rather than bringing in animals who never signed up for this.

    Even without the animal-rights aspects, show jumping is an odd fit for a multidisciplinary test of athletic prowess. Schleu is perfectly capable of riding other horses, as she has shown in a stellar international career. She had a nearly perfect ride when she took silver in the 2018 modern pentathlon world championships and again a few months ago when she finished fourth in this year’s worlds. But in the Olympics, she was stuck with a horse who was having none of it, and her medal hopes went down the drain.

    Fellow German Isabell Werth, a seven-time Olympic champion in the horse-specific event of dressage, has seen enough of the animals in modern pentathlon. “You could just as easily give them a bike or a scooter,” Werth told German news agency SID.

    Scooters in particular seem unlikely to be added, but modern pentathlon’s efforts to modernize are ongoing. As recently as 1992, the event took place over five days. In 2012, the sport combined the shooting and running, mimicking biathlon. This year, the bulk of the fencing was done separately, but the swimming, a fencing bonus round, the riding and the laser run were all conducted in Tokyo Stadium, which also hosted some soccer and rugby during the Games.

    It’s a pity fans weren’t allowed in to see a truly unique competition that included the construction of an outdoor short-course pool, but it was also a bit artificial. Fans who turned up to the stadium would not have seen the fencing “ranking round,” which in the women’s competition had already separated contenders from the field with a 150-point disparity between first and last. The swimming phase didn’t shake up the standings that much, and the fencing “bonus round” awarded no more than six points in a sport in which the winner wound up with 1,385.

    By 2024, they plan to go even further. The plan is to take a sport that once took five days and condense it to 90 minutes.

    A lot of the changes have indeed made things better. Decathlon and heptathlon should look into the laser run’s handicap start – the more points you have, the earlier you start the run – that means the first person across the finish line has won gold.

    But condensing the event to 90 minutes doesn’t solve the sport’s biggest problem, which reared its ugly head in Tokyo. It’s the horses. They might as well acknowledge that the horse draw is a lottery and replace it with a 21st-century corollary like scratch-off tickets.

    Rewind a bit. The genesis of the modern pentathlon is a scenario based around the attributes needed by a 19th-century cavalry officer. A soldier needs to escape the enemy by shooting and sword-fighting, then riding an unfamiliar horse, swimming across a river and running to safety. The scenario is certainly dated – a modern soldier probably isn’t carrying an epee – but organizers can try to keep up the narrative while replacing the horses.

    Given the popularity of esports and the importance of technology in the modern military, maybe a round of Call of Duty would work. But we have other choices that are already on the Olympic program.

    The bevy of combat sports – boxing, wrestling, taekwondo, etc – might be redundant and impractical. Karate’s Olympic tenure might be brief, anyway, as the “I can hit you softer” discipline of kumite doesn’t play well with a viewing audience accustomed to MMA.

    Instead, we could look at the “escape” aspect of the soldier’s saga. Escaping on a skateboard or surfboard seems unlikely, and surfing would ruin the sport’s aspirations of taking place in one venue, anyway. Canoe/kayak and rowing also would be difficult logistical fits. Cycling could be a viable option, maybe with a time trial around a miniature cross-country course.

    The best choice, though, is one of the newer, youth-oriented sports in the Olympics. No, not breakdancing.

    Sport climbing.

    It fits both the sport’s narrative (an escaping soldier could conceivably have to scale a cliff) and its overarching goal of testing overall athleticism. Then one option could be to commandeer a fitness center for the swimming, fencing and climbing, then move to a nearby park for the run and shoot.

    Even better: Add climbing walls to the run-and-shoot course.

    Even better: Have a triathlon-style transition from swimming to the running/shooting/climbing race.

    Of course, none of the top athletes at the moment are elite climbers and it would be unfair to expect them to master the sport before the next Olympic cycle, so the changes could be phased in slowly starting with junior events in the next few years, ready for a full introduction at the 2028 or 2032 Games. In a sport that is often decried as elitist it would also open doors for more participants. Sure, learning to climb isn’t cheap, but it’s a hell of a lot more accessible for the average kid than showjumping.

    Any of these options, though, are better than watching an interspecies conflict that’s uncomfortable to watch and places much of an athlete’s chance of winning on the luck of the draw.
    I heard Kaley Cuoco offered to buy that punched horse.

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