Samantha Murray: London 2012 silver medallist retires from modern pentathlon

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'I've done as much as I can for pentathlon' - Samantha Murray on retirement

Britain's Samantha Murray, who won silver at the 2012 London Olympics, has retired from modern pentathlon at the age of 29.

Murray, who finished eighth at the 2016 Rio Olympics, also claimed gold at the World Championships in 2014.

She won bronze at June's British Championships, a month before finishing 35th at the European Championships.

"It's been really hard and taken me over a year to make my mind up," Murray told BBC Sport.

"I've been involved in London 2012 as well as Rio 2016, and I don't feel the same connection approaching a third Olympics.

"But also I feel I've done as much as I can do as a modern pentathlete and am proud of what I've achieved."

Olympian, student, cocktail waitress

Before the London Olympics, Murray not only balanced her French and politics studies with her training, but also worked at a nightclub.

"I was on the cloakroom and was also a cocktail waitress," she said. "Looking back, I don't know how I did it. I must have had a lot more energy then."

Claiming Team GB's final medal of the London Olympics helped transform her life overnight.

"I was 22 and very young, but I loved every moment," she said. "As soon as that medal was put around my neck I kissed it because it felt like a child to me. It was amazing.

"The response from home in Lancashire and the opportunities I had to tell my story with schoolchildren was something I really enjoyed but I also felt pride doing because to some I was a role model."

Pointless, Bargain Hunt and a real responsibility

Despite the success, Murray says her life after London 2012 was also "challenging" and led to her developing something of an "identity issue".

"One day I'd be in lecture theatre and then in the afternoon I'd be in the training centre where it's serious and focused," she said.

"At the same time I'd have opportunities to go on Pointless or Bargain Hunt, and then you're a normal person catching up with friends. You have all of these faces and it can take over your life."

Claiming her first individual world title two years after a maiden Olympic medal only increased the pressure and expectation she was already experiencing.

"I wasn't just hungry, I was desperate to achieve and I was the worst for putting expectation on myself," said Murray.

"I used to think that if I didn't win or place on the podium then I couldn't imagine life next week - I felt responsible for my sport and took that so seriously."

Samantha Murray shows off her medals
"I've loved being a modern pentathlete, but a I'm ready to attack something else"

'Maybe I should have retired after Rio'

Four years on from London 2012, Murray was aiming to add Olympic gold to her collection, but she endured a disappointing fencing round in Rio and was drafted a "terrible" horse for the show-jumping stage.

Her ninth-place finish was subsequently upgraded to eighth following the disqualification of China's Chen Qian for a doping offence.

"Rio was really difficult," said Murray, who used a psychologist to alleviate the anxiety which repeatedly struck while shooting in the laser-run phase at major events.

"I felt so much responsibility to win a medal and help the sport secure money for the next Olympic cycle.

"Our coach had to take time out before the Games as well and it felt like everything I could control went wrong, so I wasn't as prepared as in London."

Murray says she was "crushed" and "heartbroken" by the result and considered walking away from the sport, but returned and won the British title in 2017.

"I'm glad I tried, but I know I just didn't feel that same total commitment I used to," she said. "Maybe I should have retired after Rio, but I felt like I had unfinished business."

The future - marriage and mentoring?

Murray says it will "take some time" to find her "next passion" after retirement, but she already has some ideas and a big date to focus on for 2019.

"I'm getting married in July and I'm really happy," she says.

"In terms of what I'm going to be next though, I enjoy public speaking, going into schools and speaking to other athletes, so maybe some mentoring, but I love talking about sport and may look at doing a journalism course.

"I've loved being a modern pentathlete, but I'm ready to attack something else."

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