Inside Lines: Modern pentathlon looks set to fall at Olympic hurdle

 

One of the oldest Olympic sports, in which Britain has a great tradition, is in danger of being booted out of the Games this week.

The modern pentathlon, invented by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics exactly 100 years ago, faces the axe on the 150th anniversary of his birth. The International Olympic Committee will decide which of the 26 sports featured in London 2012 will be removed and added to the seven currently bidding for a place in the 2020 Games, of which only two can be chosen next September.

Modern pentathlon is known to be the most vulnerable as it is not sufficiently "televisual". Taekwondo could also be under threat. Yet what was once a five-day test of strength, skill and endurance embracing running, shooting, fencing, swimming and riding has been successfully compressed into one, and in London it also pioneered laser shooting ahead of other gun disciplines which controversially still employ real bullets.

Despite these innovations there are those on the IOC who sniffily perceive the modern pentathlon as anachronistic. Jim Fox, who led the British men's team to gold in the Montreal Olympics in 1976 – the first of several GB successes, culminating in Samantha Murray's silver in London – is not alone in being angered by the real possibility that the ultimate test for any Olympian could be replaced on the Olympic stage by what he calls "mickey mouse" sports such as wushu, an Oriental martial art which sounds like a character in Aladdin.

"It is a disgrace that this should even be considered, an insult to the legacy of Baron de Coubertin," he says. "The modern pentathlon has always been the very essence of what the Games should be about." Absolutely. Should De Coubertin's baby be thrown out with the Olympic bathwater then the Games really will have lost their soul. Or more likely sold it.

Giles in let-off fury

The decision by the British Boxing Board chairman, Charles Giles, to overturn the fine and ban imposed by their own Central Area Council on foul-mouthed heavyweight Tyson Fury following a typically tasteless Twitter rant against rival David Price is certain to lead to renewed calls for him to be replaced by a more prestigious figure such as the former Olympics chief Lord Moynihan.

Fury had failed to attend two disciplinary hearings and Giles's arbitrary action has prompted the resignation of the Council chairman, Geoff Boulter. This week the Board are expected to restore the licences of Derek Chisora and David Haye a year after their infamous Munich brawl. What a pity Messrs Fury, Chisora and Haye (not to mention a few footballers) were not present to see how sportsmen should behave at last week's media conference with Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler.

For two-and-a-half hours both patiently and intelligently gave endless interviews for their world super-middleweight title unification bout without a bad word between them. "There'll be no gimmicks, bad-mouthing, rolling around at press conferences or slapping each other in the face," Froch promised. "We have too much respect for each other and the sport. We don't need that to sell tickets."

Too true. All 17,000 for their 25 May battle at London's 02 went within an hour.

Hammer blow?

Talking of tickets, West Ham have been advertising that some remain for their home game against Tottenham on 25 February. While they anticipate their 12th successive sell-out, doubts linger as to whether they can regularly fill the Olympic Stadium – or even if they will acquire it.

The club's chief executive, Karren Brady, says she is "more positive than ever", but mayor Boris Johnson is getting impatient. Hammers have been given until Tuesday week to formalise the legal and financial details, including how the £160 million conversion cost will be paid for.

"It's as if Boris is on the penalty spot and only needs to roll the ball into the net," says Brady. "But having been jilted at the altar before, you never know."

insidelines@independent.co.uk

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable