ModPen lines up relays for London 2012

By Philip Barker
Modern pentathlon wants to add team relays to its Olympic events in time for the 2012 London Games.

At the last three Olympics, competition has been restricted to individual men’s and women’s events, with a maximum of 36 competitors, and no more than two from each nation. In previous Games, before women pentathletes were included, more men were able to compete, and team medals were awarded based on combined scores. Britain won the team gold medal in 1976.

But the relay events at modern pentathlon championships are among the most exciting on the schedule, as the recent world title meeting at Crystal Palace in London showed, using the new, shoot-run format.

Modern pentathlon president Klaus Schormann declared his organisation’s intent, saying: “This is normally the most exciting competition of all. We want to have this included and we are trying for London.

“We know that LOCOG is behind us. Sebastian Coe and his team are supporting our wish.”

Crucial to Schormann’s plan is that his sport’s relays would not increase the number of competitors at the Olympics, since the two-person teams would be drawn from the individual competitors.

“We are not increasing the number of competitors,” Schormann said, “there are no more costs, there’d be more income from tickets, so that would be a real benefit for the organising committee.”

Schormann spent much of his time while in London in meetings with 2012 board member Sir Craig Reedie and the IOC’s sport director Christophe Dubi.

“This was like a test,” Schormann said of the new formats on display at Crystal Palace, “so we can present this to the IOC. We will make another presentation to the programme commission and to the Executive Board.

“I hope to speak to Jacques Rogge at the IOC Congress in Copenhagen. Everything can happen and if we do not succeed for 2012 we will try again for 2016. We will never give up.”

To enable the new run-shoot format to be used in the individual and relay races, a British-built portable shooting range with electronic targets was in place, developed at a cost of £125,000 with UK Sport as part of their £664,000 investment in the championships.

The organisers plan to use this range for other events in Britain, although insiders remain concerned that the combined event might be difficult to stage at grass roots and regional levels.

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