February 23 - Heather Fell (pictured), the Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist, and Mhairi Spence, bronze medallist at last year's Medway World Cup, will head the British challenge in the first Modern Pentathlon World Cup of the year which starts at Palm Springs tomorrow - and marks the senior debut for laser shooting in the final run/shoot discipline.
After its successful trials at last year's Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, laser shooting - which replaces the traditional shooting of pellets from an air pistol - has been instituted at the top level of the sport.
It is registered as Class 1, which means a normal person can look into the beem for eight hours without damage to the eyes.
Proponents of the change have also highlighted further advantages to laser shooting it does away with noise pollution and that of the lead pellets, it does not involve anything classified as a weapon, which makes it more convenient for competitors to travel on buses, trains and planes, it honours the Olympic ideal by echoing the idea of a more peaceful world, and it means that children can take up the sport earlier, thus allowing its development to be accelerated.
Spence topped the Pentathlon GB rankings list after three national selection competitions, winning two of the events and finishing second to Fell in the third. Spence is currently ranked 20th in the world with Fell 13th.
Samantha Murray, world ranked 15th, and Katy Burke, ranked 19th, also go for Britain at the Palm Springs World Cup.
Jamie Cooke, who topped the Pentathlon GB men's ranking list after the three selection events, competes in Palm Springs just days before his 20th birthday and just under a year after making his World Cup debut in Mexico.
He is joined by Beijing 2008 Olympian Nick Woodbridge and by Robert Flack, who competes in his first overseas World Cup.
It is the start of an important season in the sport with the first quota places for the London 2012 Olympic Games up for grabs – and many of those places will be contested on British soil.
The winner of the men's and women's competitions at the 2011 World Cup Final, taking place in London on July 9 and 10, will achieve quota places for 2012, as will the top eight ranked athletes in the men's and women's competitions at the European Championships at Medway in Kent from July 28 through to August 1.
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