WFH means win-from-home for Singapore pentathlete Shermaine Tung
S'pore pentathlete clinches silver in virtual int'l meet
While the sporting world is on hiatus, national pentathlete Shermaine Tung found herself vying against Olympic-level athletes in a virtual international meet last week.
Competing from home, the 25-year-old won a silver medal last Thursday in the Junior-Senior category of Laser Home Run, where competitors went through four rounds of 20 jump squats, in between hitting targets with a laser pistol.
Tung finished her event in 1min 53secs, just one second behind champion Belarusian Iryna Prasiantsova and a second ahead of Ecuadorian Marcela Cuaspud, both experienced Olympics-bound modern pentathletes.
Organised by Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), this virtual version of the Laser Run, which normally consists of running and shooting for several rounds, was judged over Zoom and live-streamed on UIPM TV.
Tung told The New Paper: "I'm very happy because it was such a fun competition. Athletes need a goal to work towards, so this was a good way to fuel our competitive spirit again.
"I even had race jitters. After I found out the competitors who qualified for the finals, I started getting nervous, but I like that I was because it shows that it's a real competition.
"Overall, it was an exciting experience, especially with the home advantage."
The competition set many milestones for her. It was the first time she competed in the dead of the night at 11.25pm due to the time difference and it was also her first time competing from her front yard.
"I've competed with jet lag but never at night. My mum was my main supporter and she sat with me to take pictures and videos while cheering, and also to ensure that my dogs didn't move to distract me," she said with a laugh.
Her two dogs, a brown Singapore Special called Simba and a white German Shepherd-Husky mix named Snow, sat quietly between Tung and the target to "provide moral support".
Tung, a bronze medallist at last year's SEA Games, had only three training sessions leading up to last Tuesday's heats, and two more before the finals, but managed to hit all 20 of her targets to win silver.
"I also had to (adapt) as the usual shooting distance of 10m was (halved)," said the Singapore Sports School alumna, who did a longer warm-up to get her body ready for the colder night temperatures.
She also had to get used to the lack of adrenaline rush at actual meets.
It was unlike her momentous bronze-medal finish at last year's Biathle/Triathle World Championship in the triathle (shoot-swim-run) event in Florida, where she could push herself to chase her rivals and better gauge her standing.
But, to her, the biggest benefit of competing from home was being able to control the set-up.
Tung was able to place the target at an angle she was comfortable with and draped cloths over her porch light to prevent them from hindering her vision.
Youth compatriot Ian Izree Hairul Nazwa, 16, who competed in the Under-19 category, agreed with Tung.
Said the first-year Republic Polytechnic student: "However, there were some technical difficulties. Wi-Fi could be slow and cause it to lag, so much so that some athletes could not hear the judges instructing them to start."
Due to logistics issues during this coronavirus circuit-breaker period, only five local athletes could take part.
Singapore Modern Pentathlon Association president Cassandra Choh said: "I expected 30 of them to join but most of them didn't have a laser pistol to train with nor compete… and I could not get to our association's storage facility to loan it to them.
"Not every athlete has the means to buy their own pistols and it cuts out a lot of people who don't have their own equipment."
A laser pistol set-up costs about S$1,500.
Nonetheless, Choh acknowledges that it is good to hold virtual competitions during this period.
She said: "It's an incredible initiative to keep the interest going and gives athletes around the world something to look forward to."