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23 Aug 2010

Modernising the Modern Pentathlon

Modern Pentathlon may be one of the oldest sports in the Olympic programme, but that hasn't stopped it from moving with the times by introducing a brand new innovation at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

For the first time ever in international competition, athletes are using laser pistols during the shooting stage of the event, instead of air pellets.

“This is a really big step,” said Dr Klaus Schormann, president of the sport's governing body, the UIPM. “It gives us the possibility to develop our sport in many more countries.”

Laser pistols offer a number of benefits over their traditional counterparts. They are far more environmentally friendly than lead bullets, which was a key factor for the UIPM, while using laser pistols also makes the sport safer – both for the athletes and spectators. Children can therefore start shooting at a much younger age, making the sport more assessable for all.

“With this new technology we can go to children aged eight, nine or 10 years old,” explained Schormann. “This technology cannot hurt you – the equipment is very safe so it can be used anywhere. It makes it more spectator friendly too as they can get closer to the athletes.”

The new pistols are identical to the originals in weight and even have an air pressure container that mimics a recoil when fired, making it easier for the athletes to adjust to using them.

"I have used a non-ammunition weapon once before, but that was only during a training session," said Guatemala's Jorge David Imeri Cabrera, who is competing in the boys' individual event. "It will be the first time I'm going to use the laser gun in competition. I'm very excited because my first impression during training was great."

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