Ireland won four medals on the first day of the UIPM 2018 Laser Run World Championships at Trinity College, including individual silvers in both showpiece events for Kate Coleman Lenehan and Tom O’Brien.
Coleman Lenehan kept her composure to win individual silver in the senior women’s race and help secure the team gold with the collective efforts of herself, Eilidh Prise (5th) and Grace Culhane (14th).
Culhane had already pocketed a team silver medal from the Under 19 team event alongside Grace Costello and Leah O’Neill, but just as it looked like the Irish success would be an all-female affair – Sarah Kehoe also finished 4th in the Under-13 girls – the last race of the day provided an unexpected twist.
Step forward Tom O’Brien, who showed terrific guts to win individual silver in the senior men’s race and create a fairytale ending to a day of warm sunshine and fierce competition between more than 400 athletes from 28 nations.
O’Brien, from Stillorgan in Dublin, said: “It’s wicked. It feels so good and I don’t even care what medal I got, I’m just so happy I got to compete in front of my family and friends. We don’t get the chance very often and it means everything.”
O’Brien never looked like catching the runaway leader, Bence Kardos of Hungary, but he showed great character to fight off competition from Harry Lane of Great Britain and David Kindl of the Czech Republic.
On the last of the four 800m laps, Kindl (CZE) looked to have left the home hero behind but O’Brien (IRL) surged back past his rival in the final 200m, and later thanked the vocal support he received from the sidelines.
“I practise my laser shooting every day and I knew my shooting would be competitive. I’m not the fastest runner, but I do tend to finish strongly and I passed my brother on the last lap and got a roar from him, and I just thought ‘time to go’.”
Coleman Lenehan, also from Dublin, had a less dramatic race, relying on her experience and grit to protect her second place. Jessica Varley of Great Britain had surged clear at the halfway mark but Coleman Lenehan (IRL) kept enough in the tank to fend off the rest of the field and protect her silver – Ireland’s first-ever individual world Laser Run medal.
Coleman Lenehan said: “I could hear the commentator call out the names of the athletes behind me and I knew how quick they were, so I knew I would just have to hold on.
“Jess went past me like I was going backwards, so I knew I just had to focus on keeping a gap between myself and the others. It’s so nice to be able to stand on the podium here in my home country. We don’t get this chance very often.”
Pentathlon Ireland CEO Paddy Boyd said: “Today has been a terrific showcase for the Laser Run and wider pentathlon movement in Ireland, and across the world.
“We are very proud to have created a beautiful venue for international sport here at the historic Trinity College and our athletes have done us proud, and I am sure they will do so again tomorrow.
“We are particularly looking forward to the closing Charity Team Relay, which will give families and friends the opportunity to try Laser Run and compete together in teams, while raising money for Laura Lynn Foundation.”
Entry to the Charity Team Relay is still open and entry costs €5 for individuals and €20 for teams. No previous laser shooting experience in required and equipment is provided.
UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann added: “The 4th UIPM Laser Run World Championships opened today in Dublin in a wonderful green environment with excellent weather, and we saw today exciting competition across all age groups.
“Laser Run is one of the very important non-Olympic pillars of our Union, and we will support it more and more. You can also see that it is receiving a lot of support from National Federations.
“Many different countries won medals today and it’s very important that the medallists are coming from different continents, especially Europe and Africa. The technical organisation here in Dublin has been very professionally set up, with fair conditions for everybody, and we are looking forward to another wonderful day tomorrow.”
For more information about the UIPM 2018 Laser Run World Championships please contact Jonathan Coates on email or via phone (+44 7788 352219).
About the UIPM Laser Run World Championships
Laser Run was officially introduced in 2015 when the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) hosted its first Laser Run World Championships in Perpignan, France. In 2016 the event took place in Lisbon, Portugal and in 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.
In 2017 the Global Laser Run City Tour was introduced. In 2018 the circuit consists of almost 100 cities in every continent of the world.
At the 2016 UIPM Congress, Laser Run replaced ‘Combined Event’ as the official name of the final discipline of Modern Pentathlon, which has been a core sport of the Olympic Games since it was introduced by Baron Pierre de Coubertin at Stockholm in 1912.