Pentathlon star Choong hoping horse-whispering heroics can fire him to Tokyo glory

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Choong, 26, is backing himself to shine in modern pentathlon's fiercely-competitive show jumping discipline
Choong, 26, is backing himself to shine in modern pentathlon's fiercely-competitive show jumping discipline

Horse-whisperer Joe Choong believes he’s got the Midas touch when it comes to sweet-talking moody mares, writes Charlie Bennett.

And the Orpington ace hopes that show-jumping advantage can propel him to modern pentathlon gold at Tokyo 2020. 

Modern pentathlon sees athletes compete in fencing, show-jumping, swimming, shooting and running across two days of competition but the equestrian leg is perhaps the most important. 

Athletes are randomly paired with a horse in a pre-competition draw and have just 20 minutes to get to know it before entering the arena. 

If athlete and horse don’t hit it off, then medal hopes can evaporate – but Team GB hopeful Choong has a secret up his sleeve. 

“I think everybody’s fallen off in the warm-up but sometimes you can adapt quickly enough to get round,” said Choong, whose exploits in Tokyo will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.

TOKYO 2020 - 'I KNOW I CAN COMPETE' - JOE CHOONG LOOKS TO IMPRESS ON THE OLYMPIC STAGE
TOKYO 2020 - 'I KNOW I CAN COMPETE' - JOE CHOONG LOOKS TO IMPRESS ON THE OLYMPIC STAGE

“Other times you go into the competition and fall off twice and are eliminated. 

“Each horse is different. You’ve got to find out what it likes and dislikes and it can get quite technical. But I also heard that if you tickle its ears it’s going to love you straight away.” 

Choong is preparing for his second Olympics this summer after competing at Rio 2016 as a fresh-faced 21-year-old. 

He finished 10th in Brazil after a poor performance in the last leg of the competition, the combined 3km run with pistol shooting, but has since gone from strength-to-strength. 

In 2019, he won gold at the World Cup finals in Tokyo and backed it up with World Championship silver, while he also moved top of the world rankings. 

That brings pressure in Tokyo this summer but the 26-year-old is confident he can deliver on the world’s biggest stage. 

TOKYO 2020 VIDEO - 'WE WANT TO PAVE OUR WAY' - MARCUS ELLIS HOPING FOR DOUBLES SUCCESS IN TOKYO
TOKYO 2020 VIDEO - 'WE WANT TO PAVE OUR WAY' - MARCUS ELLIS HOPING FOR DOUBLES SUCCESS IN TOKYO

“When I went into Rio, I was the young prospect. I always believe in myself, so I thought I could compete for a medal there but the external expectations were just for me to go and get experience of the Olympics,” he added. 

“In Rio, I came close to medalling but I let the event get the better of me. I started second but finished tenth, so that was disappointing. But this time around, I have experience of what it takes to close out and get a podium position in the end. 

“I was world number one in 2019, so I have got the competition experience and know-how of how to get across the line, so I am going into Tokyo aiming for gold.” 

Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+, The Streaming Home of the Olympics.

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