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GB modern pentathlon boss relieved by Murray's medal
4:36pm Monday 13th August 2012 in Sport
Pentathlon GB performance director Jan Bartu can sleep soundly again after seeing Great Britain's run of Olympic medals in the sport continue for a fourth successive Games.
Since the women's competition was introduced to the Olympic programme in Sydney in 2000, Britain have always won at least one medal, and yesterday it was Samantha Murray who continued the legacy, clinching the hosts' 65th and last medal.
The 22-year-old from Clitheroe put herself in the frame with bronze at the World Championships in May and yesterday she went one better, being roared home by 23,000 people in Greenwich Park.
Bartu, who has been in his position for 14 years, admitted the pressure of ensuring his team met their target had taken its toll.
He said: "I'm over the moon. There was a lot of pressure on all of us. Being at the end of the Games, and such a successful Games, we felt we would love to contribute to the Team GB success. This was our last chance and Samantha did it for us.
"I couldn't sleep well for the last two months. In my head all the time it was: 'Can we do it again?' You question yourself and you question everything. This is such a relief for us and confirmation that we've done it right."
Murray was an outsider even to make the British team at the start of the year and in February was ranked 78th in the world, but she found her best form just at the right time.
Bartu said: "This season is absolutely unprecedented. She never finished lower than sixth in any competition, she won a medal at a World Cup, at the World Championships and now at the Olympics.
"I think she just made her mind up and she decided to go for it. That's how she is. She's fairly stubborn and it worked for her."
Murray cried tears of joy but there were emotions of a very different kind for her British team-mate Mhairi Spence, who trailed home in 21st.
The Scot had established herself as a real medal hope by winning the World Championships in Rome and went into the Olympics in second place in the rankings.
"I'm so sorry for her because she managed a complete transformation from someone who was probably not a medal contender to someone who won the World Championships this year," said Bartu.
"She worked so hard on it and sacrificed everything to achieve her objective in this competition. But that's sport. It wasn't her day."
Spence, 24, hinted afterwards that she may not continue in the sport but Bartu felt that was largely disappointment talking.
"I wouldn't take anything for granted, there's a lot of emotion," said the Czech. "We have to see what she decides after the dust settles down."
In contrast to the women, Britain's men have never won an individual modern pentathlon medal in 100 years of Olympic competition and, despite high hopes, neither Nick Woodbridge nor Sam Weale could break that duck this time.
Woodbridge, who won bronze at the Olympic test event, was 10th with 30-year-old Weale probably finishing his last Games in 13th.
Bartu said: "Top 10 in the Games, and top 13 for both, is not a bad result. I hope we can carry on managing the men's programme for the Rio cycle."
The sport was certainly a winner, with packed stands at Greenwich and the added television exposure of being the final sporting action of the Games.
Bartu hopes it can spark a lot of interest in the sport in this country, and he added: "This is a different dimension for us.
"The last day of the Games, the last medal of the Games, a massive show and a full house. I don't know what else we could have asked for."
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