Spence hopes to continue gold tradition

10 August 2012 / 15:27

Mhairi Spence is hoping to turn her world title into Olympic gold and continue Britain's remarkable record in women's modern pentathlon.

The London Games marks the centenary of the sport's inclusion in the Olympics but it was not until Sydney in 2000 that women were allowed to compete in pentathlon. And Britain have been by far the most successful nation in the women's competition, winning four medals at the last three Games, including gold for Stephanie Cook in Sydney.

Four years ago it was Heather Fell on the podium, the Devonian winning silver, but she did not make the team this time, with Spence and Samantha Murray claiming the two spots available. With six women in the running, it was the World Championships in Rome in May that eventually proved decisive as Spence took gold and Murray bronze.

The modern pentathlon competition begins on Saturday with the men's event, where Nick Woodbridge and Sam Weale go for Britain. Spence, from Farr near Inverness, goes into Sunday's competition ranked second in the world behind Laura Asadauskaite of Lithuania and as one of the favourites for a medal.

She told Press Association Sport: "Obviously there's pressure but we're home nation athletes and there's going to be pressure no matter what. I want to go to the Olympic Games and I want to do well, I'm not just there to make up the numbers.

"Obviously winning the World Championships has put me in a good position confidence wise. I know that I can go there and give my all and it's not impossible to stand on the podium."

It has been a long journey for the 26-year-old, who went to Beijing as a reserve and considered giving up the sport when she feared her Olympic dream would never be realised.

She added: "It's unbelievable to be finally in the situation. I said to my coach, 'I've waited nine years for this'. And especially the four long years since Beijing, I've waited to be in the situation where I'm the competing athlete and it's such a great feeling. I feel like I'm where I should be."

While Spence has been one of Britain's top pentathletes for a number of years, Murray timed her run to perfection, enjoying a stunning 2012 culminating in that World Championships medal.

The 22-year-old from Clitheroe said: "It gave me confidence and showed me that everything I was doing was really working, and also proved to everybody and to myself that I am a contender for medals at that level. I've done it at the World Championships so why not at the Olympics?"