Ian Izree Hairul Nazwa enjoys shooting Nerf guns and has even taken part in a Nerf competition. But the 13-year-old never expected his interest in shooting foam bullets to become the catalyst in winning two international modern pentathlon medals for Singapore.
He bagged a bronze at the Dec 8-12 Asean Modern Pentathlon Championship (AMPC) in Thailand - a contemporary but truncated version of the sport - in the individual youth category. He also clinched a silver in the youth team category of the three-discipline competition, comprising a beach run, open-water swim and laser pistol shooting.
His father, Hairul Nazwa Dol, won a silver in the senior men's team competition.
The traditional modern pentathlon is five events - fencing, swimming, horse riding, shooting and running - contested in one day.
Ian told The Straits Times the AMPC was the pair's third modern pentathlon together, adding: "Since I was young, my dad has trained me in swimming, running and cycling.
"I don't really like cycling, but I was interested in shooting because I enjoy shooting Nerf guns.
A FATHER ALWAYS KNOWS
At home, he doesn't really bother me much, but if I use my phone for more than an hour he stops me, saying I must protect my eyesight to shoot well. I don't know how he finds out, but he always does.
IAN IZREE HAIRUL NAZWA, paying tribute to his father's heightened powers of perception, even when away from training.
COMBINING TWO ROLES
We are quite okay. It's very clear for him - at training, I'm his coach; at home, I'm his father.
HAIRUL NAZWA DOL, explaining how he handles the dual responsibility of being father and coach to his teenage son.
"So when my dad told me the modern pentathlon has those sports, I decided to take part for fun."
The pair entered their first modern pentathlon together in 2012.
"Ian started swimming at age six, and we do a lot of sports together - we've done adventure racing, an obstacle course race and kayaking," said Hairul, a full-time sport endurance coach.
The 40-year-old is both father and coach to his son, and while he admitted there is sometimes friction as a result of his dual roles, these minor fights are usually resolved when Ian's mother, Seow Wei Lin, intervenes.
Ian, an only child, quipped: "You can't not listen to your mother."
Added Hairul, who is also vice-president of BMX at the Singapore Cycling Federation: "We are quite okay. It's very clear for him - at training, I'm his coach; at home, I'm his father.
"You can be hard on your students, but you must be understanding of them. As a father, it's the same but I can push a bit more because I understand him better."
Ian revealed his father is a bigger disciplinarian as a coach, saying: ""My dad is very fierce with me when it comes to coaching. He wants me to be focused, and if I try to fight back or argue, he'll add on extra sets.
"At home, he doesn't really bother me much, but if I use my phone for more than an hour he stops me, saying I must protect my eyesight to shoot well. I don't know how he finds out, but he always does."
Time spent training and racing together is cherished. "When we see a father-son race, my father encourages me to take part with him," said Ian, who estimates that they have competed in at least 10 races together.
"He'll find interesting races through Facebook and he asks me if I want to take part, and then tells me that I must be committed to training and watch my diet.
"But it's good; I feel honoured that he cares so much, and having a father who cares is better than having an outside coach, because he can help me with my diet and time management, and the training sessions can always fit my schedule."