Following the path of Kate French, Choong is the first British man to win the Olympic gold in the modern pentathlon. His former coach encouraged him to take on the event because being left handed would “give him an advantage”.
Joe Choong won gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, making him the first British man to win the individual Olympic medal since 1912. Now, it is known that his former pentathlon coach at the Whitgift School, Croydon, said he would have an advantage in fencing for being left-handed.
Charlie Unwin, a professional sport psychologist, noticed Choong was a talented swimmer when he was 13-years-old. He convinced Choong to take a bleep test to see whether he could run too. As he could, he advised Choong to take on the modern pentathlon as holding a weapon with the other hand “creates an unfamiliar profile for the right-handers fighting against you”.
The 26-year-old earned the Olympic gold in an unprecedented Olympic modern pentathlon double, as team mate Kate French won 24 hours prior, giving Great Britain two modern pentathlon gold. The athlete was the competition leader after the fencing, swimming and show jumping rounds.
He sealed his victory in the final 200m of the laser run, as Egypt’s Ahmed ElGendy battled to become Africa’s first modern pentathlon Olympic medallist. Jun Woong- tae of South Korea took the bronze at the event.
Despite dominating the fencing and finishing third in the 200m freestyle swim, Choong knocked two fences in the showjumping. He was on board the same horse that French rode during the women’s modern pentathlon. His points gave him a slim 12-second lead in the final run and shoot.
Just as in Rio, during the first shot from the laser the last shot did not register. However this time Choong kept a cool head and went on to hit the next five shots. In Rio the british athlete finished 10th.
Egypt’s Ahmed Elgendy propelled himself from 50 seconds back at the start of the laser run to lead the start of the final lap. Choong did not lose his nerves, he ranked world number one at the end of 2019.
Choong earned a total of 1482 points, Elgendy 1477 and Jun 1470. His brother, Henry, two years younger, has been in Team GB since 2014. Joe could compete along Henry at Paris 2024 in a biathlon.