Born in Preston and raised in Clitheroe, modern pentathlete Samantha Murray burst onto the international scene in 2012 when she helped the Great Britain team to European and world gold. Since then she has continued to carve out a name for herself, winning multiple world and European gold medals, including the individual title at the former in 2014. Samantha competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games, coming away with silver in the women’s event.
In her latest blog, Olympic silver medallist and World Champion Samantha Murray discusses home comforts, her beloved pet dog and the importance of a balanced lifestyle.
See more of her profile by clicking here
It is said that home is where the heart is and I am no different to most in that sense. Over the festive period, I returned to my family home in Clitheroe, Lancashire for a break. My parents live in the Ribble Valley. The scenery is beautiful and there are many lovely walks and local pubs to stop by at on the way. This year the flooding affected so many houses and businesses in our area. People were evacuated from their homes on Christmas day as the water just kept rising and rain kept falling! It was really sad. We weren’t affected at home, but as the roads were closed, it meant we couldn’t really go anywhere either!
In the New Year I made my way back down to Bath to start training for 2016. I keep hearing people say how quickly they feel time has gone since 2012, but for me, I couldn’t be more ready to embrace this year. 2016 is here! Few days back to training to wake my body up, then I spent five days in Rome at the Italian Olympic training centre.
There was some down time, with my coach Istvan Nemeth and the other girls I went over with – Joanna Muir and Kate French – we had few great trips into the centre and enjoyed some amazing pizza. I’m usually one for ordering my ‘know to like’ dish, but this time I took a chance on something new, and it did not disappoint: buffalo mozzarella, potato and truffle. Maybe the tastiest pizza I’ve had, but then in Italy they always seem to taste the best! Besides the pizza and new environment, our main objective of training in Rome was to fence with new sparring partners. Fencing is a popular sport in Italy so there’s always lots of people to fence.
Returning home was great as I had my dog Bob who is a Jack Russell-cross-Poodle waiting for me! We all love our dogs and regard them as a great friend and I’m no exception to that. I would love to have him live with me and follow me on my travels but it wouldn’t be fair or manageable so he lives with my parents who totally adore him (it’s pretty hard not to). I always grew up around animals on my grandparents’ farm and so it’s been an adjustment and an acceptance that while I’m an athlete having a pet isn’t really possible. Something for the future!
I’m often asked how I like to relax or what my hobbies are. For me, down time is definitely one of those things that you simply have to do. You just can’t expect to be on the go all the time and train every minute of the day and then expect to perform at your maximum. You’ve got to allow your body to recover and for some athletes that means different things. Some like to go home and sleep and others like to go somewhere new and see something new and interact in a different way.
For everyone in life, regardless of what you’re doing, having a balance and understanding that we’re not robots is really important, even though it is easy to forget that as a sportsperson. I like to have new experiences and a varied lifestyle outside of training. The concept of well being is really important to us all and if respected and managed well, is a key to our happiness. My coach told me ‘happy athletes are successful athletes’. So for me personally, I find that having a balanced lifestyle in every aspect is critical: nutrition, sleep, training, time with friends, interests and some good fun!
Hopefully the skill of balancing out everything that I learnt while training for five sports and completing high school; sixth form; university and the Olympic Games, will be valuable to my future in the modern pentathlon and even my future job away from competitive sport.
Often I hear: ‘oh my goodness, how do you train for five sports at a time? Seriously how do you do it?’ Well I just managed time and allow myself the space to do the things that I value. I enjoy spending time at the beach, seeing some place new and (at the appropriate time) skiing and watersports! I tried rock climbing outdoors not so long ago and totally loved it! Maybe that’s something for the future too! It is important that you get used to a structure in your life – not just sportspeople but everyone - and appreciate what is right for you because we are all different and require an individual balance to be our best.
Tune back in next month to find out how Samantha's preparations for the new season are going