Sam starts year with a bang!

Pentathlon GB Media Day -  Sports Training Village, University of Bath, Bath.| Photographer: Artur Lesniak/arturlesniak.com | Date: 16/08/2017 | Copyright: Artur Lesniak
Pentathlon GB Media Day - Sports Training Village, University of Bath, Bath.| Photographer: Artur Lesniak/arturlesniak.com | Date: 16/08/2017 | Copyright: Artur Lesniak

Reigning British champion Samantha Murray enjoyed more success on home soil as she started 2018 with victory at the first Pentathlon GB ranking competition of the year in Bath on Saturday.

The Rio Olympian was in contention throughout the day, with the Clitheroe ace second following the opening two disciplines, before taking the lead after the laser run, and retaining it during the horseriding phase of the women’s competition.

Murray edged out Jess Varley into second place, with Joanna Muir third.

The competition marked the beginning of a long 2018 season, with the World Championships in Mexico not taking place until mid-September.

However, the event was still keenly-contested, with all athletes already well into their winter training blocks.

In the fencing hall, it was Surrey’s Francesca Summers who led the way, with the Sky Sports Scholar producing a fine display to secure 23 victories and just five defeats from her 28 bouts.

A strong second half saw London 2012 silver medallist Murray secure 19 victories, the same number as Varley, who is one of three new athletes to be accepted onto the Pentathlon GB World Class Performance Programme for 2018.

In the pool, Murray led the way in a time of 2:15.71, ahead of Morecambe’s Georgia Hannam (2:17.58) and Saddleworth’s Olivia Green (2:19.17).

It meant 21-year-old Summers maintained a six-second lead over Murray after the opening two disciplines, with Varley a further 16 points back.

A thrilling laser run saw a great battle between the top three as the positions changed throughout.

However, Murray made her break on the third 800m loop, leading into the range for the final shoot and maintaining that advantage to the line, with Varley in second and Summers third at the end of the discipline.

Behind them, Muir and Green matched each other stride-for-stride to record the two quickest laser run times of the day and lie in fourth and fifth overall.

There were still big changes to follow though on a tricky course in the ride.

After some difficulties for the earlier starters, Green was eliminated after an error at the final fence while a fall saw Summers suffer 58 penalty points.

It meant that Murray claimed top honours at the opening event of the season, with Varley second and Muir third after the joint best ride of the day along with Holly Parker.

Behind the leading trio, Summers held on to fourth with Kerenza the top junior athlete in fifth and Bristol’s Charlie Follett sixth.

The second Pentathlon GB National Ranking Competition of the year takes place on February 10th, also at the University of Bath and West Wilts Equestrian Centre.