SAMANTHA Murray admitted she surprised herself with an impressive performance in her first international event since winning Olympic silver in London last year.
Murray finished fifth in the second Modern Pentathlon World Cup of the year on Friday in Rio, having qualified for the final last Wednesday.
And the 23-year-old was delighted with her efforts as she got back into the swing of things: “I was really happy with fifth place, it was my first competition since the Olympics, and it was kind of a warm-up in that sense, so I surprised myself.
“It’s a good feeling to know I’ve had a lot of time out, and I’m not fully focused yet, but it’s still there, and I can go forward knowing there’s more to come.”
She had gone into the run/shoot on top of the leaderboard, but her lead was whittled away by Margaux Isaksen, the USA’s world junior champion, on the second shoot, and the American went on to take gold, with Olympic champion Laura Asadauskaite from Lithuania climbing from seventh to take silver.
Murray had targeted a top 10 finish, and made sure of fifth place.
She added: “The run/shoot last year was what pulled me up - it won me the silver medal in London and is one of my strengths, but recently I’ve not had the track time, and the same with the pistol, and you can’t afford to be ring-rusty.
“So it was understandable that things started to fall apart a bit under pressure.
“But I know which areas I need to work on, and it was great to experience Rio as well ahead of 2016, the heat and humidity and how to deal with that and perform in those conditions.”.
Earlier n the final, Murray had produced a strong finish to the fencing to end with 21 wins from 35 bouts, putting her in sixth place with 904 points.
The action then moved on to the pool, where Murray produced another strong performance to climb to second place overall.
Murray’s 200m freestyle time of 2:11.98 was the fourth quickest of the day, and saw her go to the riding arena just eight pentathlon points behind Poland’s Oktawia Nowacka.
In the ride, despite an early refusal on Janone, Murray then got her horse going well around the course without incurring any further penalties, adding 1060 points to her total.
Leader Nowacka lost 200 points from the maximum to drop down to fourth on a day when only two athletes – Brazil’s Priscila Oliveira and Isaksen of the USA – went clear in the allowed time to bag the maximum 1,200 points.
That meant Murray went into the combined event at the head of the leaderboard.
She started the run/shoot 34 seconds clear of Oliveira and with a 36-second advantage over Isaksen.
Murray hit the five targets in six shots on her opening visit to the shooting range, but couldn’t match that next time and Isaksen went into the lead on the third shoot.
Murray clocked 13:56.40 for the run shoot.
She won’t be competing as the World Cup moves on to Chengdu, China in April, amid a busy schedule as she approaches her exams at Bath University, where she is studying French and Politics, but will be in action in Budapest in May, as well as the Junior and Senior Pentathlon Championships in Birmingham next weekend.