European dream for ‘home’ girl Sam

Samantha Murray is targeting another major medal on home soil

Samantha Murray is targeting another major medal on home soil

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Samantha Murray is excited at the prospect of competing in front of a home crowd this weekend.

The Preston-born modern pentathlon star goes gunning for glory in the European Championships, which are being held in Bath.

It is certainly going to be an extra special occasion for the 2014 world champion as the city is like a home from home for her.

She studied at Bath University and is still based there for the majority of the year alongside the rest of the Team GB squad.

Murray will feel confident of adding European gold to her growing list of major championships medals, especially as the last time she competed on home soil she won an Olympic silver medal at the London 2012 Games.

“It’s an exciting time, we’ve been waiting a long time for this to come around, a home competition at Bath, where we are based, and it’s a great opportunity to compete in front of friends and family for the first time since the Olympics.

“We’ve done our preparation in the Pyrenees, doing altitude work, then 10 days back in England, and having done my degree in Bath, all my training, and grown as an athlete and a person, it’s a special place for me.

“Opportunities like this don’t come along too often, and I want to grab it with both hands. I can’t wait for it.”

A good performance in Bath could go a long way to securing her place for the next Olympics, which take place in Rio de Janeiro next year.

However, Murray is remaining focused on the competition in hand and refuses to get drawn on what could lie ahead.

“Qualifying for Rio isn’t the main focus – I’m just trying to put five events together at a high level and perform to my optimum,” she said.

“It would be incredible to add the European title to the World Championship gold and Olympic silver, but there is a lot of work to do.

“You can think about that once you cross the line – I have to keep focused and give it everything.

“There will be a really strong line-up – the current World champion, Russia and France will be strong...so it is no easier than the Worlds.

“To win a medal would be an incredible achievement, and top eight would mean I’ve had a very good day.”

Murray was unable to defend her world crown earlier this year in Berlin, although she was still very happy to finish fifth.

She said: “I had an excellent World Championships – I put together four excellent events, just my fencing was weak. There are a number of factors I have worked on.

“I’m just trying to be in balance – competing is stressful, and it’s about putting it all together on the day.

“I look back two or three years and I see a weaker athlete than I am now. I’ve changed as an athlete and I’m a different person.

“I’m delighted with what I’ve achieved.”

Follow Samantha at facebook.com/samantha.murray.353; twitter.com/_samanthamurray and samanthamurrayinsta