Joe Choong said he was close to withdrawing from the Ankara UIPM World Cup ©Getty Images

Olympic champion Joe Choong has revealed he thought about withdrawing from the men’s competition at the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) World Cup in Ankara following a statement made by Pentathlon GB in support of the UIPM during the event.

Speaking exclusively to insidethegames, Choong was critical of the National Federation's (NF) decision to take a stance on the fifth discipline during the latest stage of the World Cup, which he won.

On Wednesday (June 8) Pentathlon GB released a statement, backing the UIPM's attempts to get modern pentathlon kept on the Olympic programme after it failed to make the initial line-up for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.

It also said it understood concerns made by athletes like Choong, who opposed the removal of riding as a discipline, with it expected to be replaced by obstacle racing as things stand.

Britain claimed both Olympic titles at Tokyo 2020 in modern pentathlon thanks to Joe Choong and Kate French ©Getty Images
Britain claimed both Olympic titles at Tokyo 2020 in modern pentathlon thanks to Joe Choong and Kate French ©Getty Images

"We fully recognise the importance of the rights of our members to have their voices heard and to raise concerns about UIPM governance processes which we expect UIPM to respond to," said a Pentathlon GB statement.

"We also recognise the strength of feeling regarding the retention of the riding discipline upholding our history and tradition and acknowledge that for many this is a very difficult time for our sport.

"We respect those views. 

"However, the focus on Pentathlon GB must be on the long-term protection of the sport - if we lose our Olympic status we will be failing in that duty to safeguard the future of modern pentathlon.

"Therefore, Pentathlon GB will offer its full support to UIPM in their efforts to confirm our status and fulfil our obligation to protect the long-term future of our sport. 

"We will be seeking to actively provide feedback on the proposed fifth discipline format and will look to participate in testing at forthcoming events in the months ahead."

Two days later, the NF sent out a clarification suggesting some of its points were "mis-interpreted", stating it did not publicly endorse the removal of riding, but to support the UIPM's efforts to maintain the sport's status at the Olympics. 

Choong considered withdrawing from the competition due to the timing of the statement, but was talked out of it.

"That whole competition for me was overwhelmed by that [Pentathlon] GB statement and I have been campaigning a lot about why horse riding should be kept and why athletes should be listened to," said Choong exclusively to insidethegames.

"Despite all of this, Pentathlon GB felt like it was the right thing to do to delete the statement and I don't know why they thought it was the right time to do it during our competition as well.

"It left me feeling completely betrayed.

"I really considered just pulling out of the competition as I didn't want to be associated with that, but I spoke to someone and they said if you can't do it for GB, just do it for yourself.

"I have the platform I do because of my results and if that's thrown away then I potentially lose that platform so that was enough to get me on the start line for the semi-finals."

Choong qualified for the semi-finals and took victory in the final by one second to Hungarian Csaba Bohm yesterday.

He is one of the stiffest opponents to the removal of riding and a key member of the activist group, Pentathlon United, who seek to keep riding in modern pentathlon.

In today's mixed team relay, Seong Seung-min and Lee Ji-hun of South Korea crossed the line first, eight seconds ahead of their closest competitors with a total of 1,367 points.

Marvin Faly Dogue and Janine Kohlmann of Germany were second, holding the same margin of a lead over Egyptians Mohanad Shaban and Amira Kandil, the bronze medallists.

Britain’s Henry Choong and women's winner from yesterday, Jessica Varley, missed the medals by three seconds, while Matous Tuma and Veronika Novotna of Czech Republic were far off in fifth.