Joy for Bath-based modern pentathletes after 2020 Olympics verdict
London Olympians Samantha Murray and Mhairi Spence spoke of their “relief” after modern pentathlon was named as a core sport for the 2020 Games.
The International Olympic Committee’s executive board yesterday agreed on the list of 25 core sports it will propose to the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September for approval as the core sports for the Olympics in seven years’ time.
Modern pentathlon features on that list, despite some speculation that it might drop off the programme. It celebrated the centenary of its first appearance at the Olympics last year, having made debut at Stockholm in 1912. Pierre De Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, was an admirer of pentathlon and championed its introduction.
The executive board recommended that wrestling join the seven shortlisted sports – baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu – vying for inclusion in the 2020 programme as an additional sport.
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PentathlonGB’s elite performers have been based at the University of Bath since 1999 and Murray – who won silver at London 2012 – said: “I’m elated, joyful and relieved by the decision.
“I feel so passionate about the modern pentathlon and I’m so pleased that the IOC has recognised the value of the sport.
“I’m sure Baron Pierre De Coubertin would be smiling in his grave right now.
“It’s really sad news for wrestling and I feel for everyone involved in the sport," she added.
Spence, Britain’s reigning world champion, said: “I’m relieved. We’ve got a lot of strong young athletes coming through and to think they might not have had the motivation of the Olympic Games would have been hard to swallow.
“That motivation really spurred me on to achieve things and I’m glad the dream is still alive for them.”
Heather Fell, who won silver for Great Britain at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, added: “It’s fantastic news. Modern pentathlon epitomises what the Olympics is about and the Olympics are the biggest event on the sport's calendar by far.”
Pentathlon GB chief executive Jon Austin said: "This is still subject to a final decision at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires, but it’s great news. I’m extremely happy with the decision. It’s terrific news for everyone in pentathlon community.”