Thursday, 11 November 2010

Holy Shoot! The laser pistol implementation

The annual UIPM Congress took place in Riga, Latvia (it was scheduled for Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, and for unknown reason it was suddenly changed to Riga). Surely this wasn't the turn of events that most impressed the pentathlon community. First, the implementation of the laser pistol wasn't approved for the next Olympics and its qualification (they needed 2/3 of the votes) and so it would be implemented only for Juniors and Youth A and B (it was expected that UIPM's will would win). Then, the board used a prerogative to make it real, despite the defeat in the poll. I guess a lot of discussion happened in Riga, and I can understand both points of view. The laser guns are the future of modern pentathlon, environmentally friendly and surely much more safer for athletes and viewers (also is supposed to make easier the travels and the problems in the airports), I guess it was a consensus, but when and how to make the change was the issue. I know the costs play an important role and are a challenge for a sport that is at the same time so expensive and have such a lack of sponsors - we can also question the lobby of those companies that detain the technology. The change in the middle of an Olympic cycle is surely saw as reckless. When FINA changed the swim suits rules, UIPM followed the decision. Now UIPM is ahead of another international federation - I can't say if it's good or not.
Just like it happened with the combined event, the test events that should have happen during the year didn't happened as planned. They will say it didn't happen because they were careful, I think it's actually because of poor planning and poor talk between UIPM and national associations, athletes and coaches. The sport has to move on, try a balance of keeping the tradition and becoming more popular so can save its ass (sorry for the vulgar word). The board probably knows the consequences of overruling a Congress decision and also considered it politically safe as they narrowly missed the 2/3 of votes (or was that a huge mistake?). I just hope it wasn't a shoot -and I mean a shoot in old-fashioned gun - at their own feet.
Well, that's my 2 cents on the issue.

Check the UIPM clarification on laser shooting:
and a video made by UIPM explaining the laser shooting:

since the clarification was not that clear, a more comprehensive view on what happened by Great Britain's performance director (and Olympic medallist by former Czechoslovakia) Jan Bartu:

And from British Pentathlon website, a very honest report on the Congress and its main discussion, the laser pistol:

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