Samantha Murray is relishing the prospect of being ‘the one to beat’ next year in the modern pentathlon.
The 24-year-old Preston-born star became world champion for the first time earlier this month in Warsaw, Poland.
After winning an Olympic silver at the London Games two years ago, as well as claiming a bronze in the same year at the worlds in Rome, Murray has finally broken through and won a big individual title.
Her victory a week last Friday is particularly poignant as Murray – who comes from Clitheroe – was considering retirement after enduring a difficult time last year.
However, after deciding to continue, Murray has once again poured her heart and soul into being the best she can be – and it has all paid off.
She believes that her success at the World Championships will be the springboard for her to claim gold at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in two years’ time.
“I am the one to beat now,” said Murray, who was also part of the GB team which won silver in Poland.
“After London in 2012 – even though I won silver – I was probably not ready to go the all way.
“I have grown into these shoes and people will be looking at me now as the one to beat.
“But you know what? I say bring it on. I am ready, I feel a lot more confident and I know what I need to do in Rio.
“Being world champion...it feels right. It’s a great achievement.
“I have worked so hard. I knew I was good enough, it was just a matter of time before it all came together.
“I did some altitude training for three weeks in France, at a little place near the Pyrenees.
“I worked really hard and the altitude definitely helped me get really fit.
“I was in such a good place physically that I knew I had a great chance of getting a medal and having a great day at the World Championships.”
The modern pentathlon tests an athlete over five different disciplines, which are fencing, swimming, showjumping, shooting and running.
It was an astonishing display in the pool which set Murray on the path to gold in Warsaw after she had – by her own admission – underperformed in the fencing.
However, her time of two minutes, 03.84 seconds, in the 200m swim is a world record for the modern pentathlon and it propelled her into second spot overall.
“The fencing was really difficult – I had a slow start,” Murray said.
“But I picked up a lot and improved in the second half of the fencing and finished very strongly. After that first event I was really emotional because I knew I could have done better. But I had some time before the swimming event to re-focus and I swam really well.
“I kind of knew it was going to be a fast time but to swim a PB, which was a world record for the modern pentathlon, it was a great feeling.”
A smart performance in the showjumping event left her in third spot overall with the final run/shoot event – another strong suit of hers – to come.
“I got a clear round on the horse – I didn’t have any bad jumps. The only penalties we had were some time penalties, which wasn’t too bad.
“In the run/shoot, I started in third place – 16 seconds behind the overall leader.
“The first shoot was very good and that meant I came in at the same time as the girl in first. I led from the start of the race and carried on shooting well.
“I eventually finished eight seconds clear overall of the Chinese athlete Qian Chen.”