IT wasn’t quite the golden finale for Great Britain – but Clitheroe’s Samantha Murray didn’t care a jot as she sealed a surprise modern pentathlon silver after a lung-busting crescendo to London 2012.
The 22-year-old Blackburn Harriers made an average start to the day but with just the combined run/shoot event remaining the Brit had hauled herself into fourth place before stealing into second to seal Great Britain’s 65th and last medal of these storied Games.
British teammate Mhairi Spence was well-fancied to add Olympic gold to her world title, won in May, but Murray is no mug either and she stepped out of the Scot’s shadow to take her place on the podium.
Murray’s performance matches that of Heather Fell who won silver at Beijing 2008 and it maintains Great Britain’s remarkable run of winning a female medal at every Games since women were permitted to compete at Sydney 2000.
Back in Sydney, Steph Cook won gold and Kate Allenby secured bronze while at Athens 2004 Georgina Harland captured bronze – and it is the Olympic champion of 12 years ago who served as Murray’s inspiration.
As a 12-year-old, Murray had a poster of Cook on her bedroom wall, and more than a decade later, she basked in the glory of following her hero onto the Olympic podium “I know it was an Olympic Games but it was just another day in the office and I just ran another pentathlon and my task here was to just keep my cool,” said Murray, who won world bronze in May.
“I got off to a really bad start down in the fencing but I just ran into the bathroom screamed to myself in the mirror and managed to pull it back after that and I am really pleased with how I came back.
“I would have liked to have won gold but I shot myself in the foot with my fencing which is my weakest discipline, but I was pleased with how I gritted my teeth and got back into it.
“It was such an honour to win something for this crowd because they were amazing and on the run every time I came back into the stadium the roar just lifted my legs up and got me to the finish line.”
Starting her campaign on the fencing piste, Murray looked anything but an Olympic silver medallist as she could manage just 18 victories from her 35 bouts, good enough for 832 points and joint 16th place.
But swimming is Murray’s strong suit and she clocked the second quickest time in the 200m freestyle, beaten only by an Olympic record – how GB’s specialist swimmers had craved such a performance.
That bumped Murray up to third place overall with 2096 points and she finished the riding discipline in a creditable 13th to head into the run/shoot in fourth overall.
With just eight seconds to make up on leaders Laura Asadauskaite of Lithuania and Brazil’s Yane Marques and starting six behind third-placed Amelie Caze of France, Murray knew she was in the medal hunt.
She needed to produce the goods in the run/shoot however, but that she did, overtaking Marques on the last of the three 1000m laps and with Caze dropping out, silver belonged to Murray.
“I had a lot to make up on so I needed that run, I made a few mistakes which set me back in the field but I came through in the end,” she added.
“My shooting was reasonably good as well, so I’m just so pleased because my legs just kept running for me.
“I’m happy because those hills were so steep and I kept working really hard.”
* Lloyds TSB, proud supporter of Team GB and proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Get closer to the Games at lloydstsb.com/london2012