Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the Olympic Games throws up even more drama.
The modern pentathlon was in danger of being overshadowed by the track cycling and athletics on a frantic Friday, but the craziest of show jumping rounds ensured it will live long in the memory.
Germany’s Annika Schleu led after the first two disciplines – the 200m freestyle swim and fencing – and looked the clear favourite for gold when disaster struck.
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Unlike standard equestrian events at the Olympics, competitors in the modern pentathlon are paired with an unfamiliar horse just 20 minutes before the event. What follows is usually chaos, with some athletes forming an unlikely bond while others struggle to stay on the saddle.
Schleu was paired with Saint Boy, who initially refused to start before belatedly rumbling into action. The calm didn’t last long.

'That'll be elimination!' - Nightmare fall in pentathlon before horse runs away

The five-time world champion was reduced to tears as Saint Boy started to knock down the fences, then refused to cooperate entirely. She eventually abandoned the discipline, ending her dreams of a medal, as she trotted through the exit dejected and downtrodden.

Annika Schleu of Team Germany fails a jump

Image credit: Getty Images

"It's all falling apart for Annika Schleu. I think she's starting to lose the composure... and now this is really sad to watch," came the reaction from the Eurosport commentary box as Saint Boy started backpeddling along the perimeter, rather than obeying the command.
"Annika Schleu is having an absolute real-life nightmare right now. This is hard to watch, hard to commentate on. The crowd don't really know how to react."

'Incredible performance' - Britain's French storms to pentathlon glory

Schleu’s loss turned out to be Team GB’s gain, with Kate French finding herself in the medal mix after a near-flawless ride on Clntino going into the laser run.
And the 30-year-old completed the job with a sensational final effort to grab Britain’s first gold in the event since Sydney 2000.
Schleu wasn’t the only modern pentathlete to experience despair in the show jumping. Italy’s Elena Micheli was twice ejected from the saddle by Cristbal 21, who also charged through one fence with no attempt clear it, while Brazil’s Ieda Guimaraes suffered a similar fate on Caleansiena YH.
The pair joined Schleu and three others in failing to register a score in the show jumping discipline.

Ieda Guimaraes of Team Brazil riding Caleansiena YH falls at a jump

Image credit: Getty Images

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