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Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

Pentathlon change irks Livingston

By Ollie Williams

Katy Livingston
Livingston won bronze at this year's pentathlon world championships

Top modern pentathlete Katy Livingston says she cannot understand a decision to change the format of her sport.

The sport's governing body has voted to combine the disciplines of shooting and running into one event from January.

Modern pentathlon has traditionally involved five events, the others being swimming, show jumping and fencing.

"I'm not very happy but the athletes don't have much choice, the people in charge made the decision," Cleveland-born Livingston, 24, told BBC Sport.

From 2009, pentathlon competitions will finish with a combined shooting and running event, similar to that found in biathlon.

You have to hold this final event outdoors. If we have typical English weather, blowing a gale and raining, I'm not sure what they're going to do

Katy Livingston
The London 2012 Games will see the first revamped Olympic event, while Britain will also be the venue for the first world championships to showcase the new format, at Crystal Palace in August next year.

Livingston finished seventh at the Beijing Games in August this year, with team-mate Heather Fell winning the silver medal to maintain Britain's strong Olympic record in the sport.

"They've been trying to push it through and set up test events over the past year which, in my opinion, haven't been very successful," said Livingston.

"[The changes are] to make pentathlon more media and spectator-friendly, but I can't really think this is the way to do it.

"The best thing about our sport was the run at the end, it was a proper running race, chasing people down, and if positions are tight it can be really exciting. They've taken away our most spectator-friendly element."

Livingston conceded she had yet to try the combined event - but when she returns to training in January following a winter break, her sport will have changed.

"It's going to be an interesting season and I'm going to give it a go. I'd be stupid not to even try it because I'm not happy about the idea," she said.

"I don't think it'll affect my performance too much, I can do the shooting and the running. But until I start training for it, I've got no idea if it's going to be good for me or not."

However, Livingston - world bronze medallist and a British medal hope for 2012 - suggested the new event could fall foul of British weather at the 2009 world championships.

Up to and including Beijing: five events - fencing, shooting, swimming, show jumping, running
January 2009 onwards:
four events - fencing, swimming, show jumping, combined running and shooting finale
All events held in a single day at Olympic competition
"You have to hold this final event outdoors so you can run and shoot in front of spectators, that's the whole point," she explained.

"If we have typical English weather, blowing a gale and raining, I'm not sure what they're going to do.

"We had a test event at the Millfield World Cup earlier this year and they had to cancel the men's event because of the weather."

While the number of days over which the Olympic competition is contested has been changed over the years, the five events at the heart of modern pentathlon have remained intact since its inception in 1912.

The change was approved following a vote at the International Union of Modern Pentathlon (UIPM) congress in Guatemala, held on 20-23 November.

Britain's women have won almost half of the medals available to them at the Olympics since women's modern pentathlon was introduced to the Games at Sydney 2000.

Previous to Fell's silver medal in Beijing, Steph Cook won gold and Kate Allenby bronze in Sydney, and Georgina Harland took bronze in Athens.

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see also
Fell wins world pentathlon silver
04 Oct 08 |  Olympics
Modern pentathlon results
24 Aug 08 |  Beijing 2008
Schoneborn pips GB's Fell to gold
22 Aug 08 |  Modern Pentathlon
Moiseev retains pentathlon title
21 Aug 08 |  Modern Pentathlon
One day, five sports, 20 minutes and a horse
15 Apr 08 |  Modern Pentathlon

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