Oliver Murray makes senior debut at the European Championships

Oliver Murray, left
Oliver Murray, left
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Clitheroe’s Oliver Murray made his senior debut as he forms part of a strong British linbe-up for the 2019 European Modern Pentathlon Championships, which started at the University of Bath on Tuesday.

Murray was joined by 2019 World Cup Final winner Joe Choong in a 13-strong British line-up.

University of Bath students Murray and Myles Pillage were to compete in the men’s relay, fresh off the back of relay medals at both 2019 Junior European and Junior World Championships.

Murray, at 20, is the youngest member of the British team.

The Olympic spots available are in the individual competitions with Romford’s Tom Toolis and Salfords’ Sam Curry joining Choong and reigning World Champion Jamie Cooke in the men’s team.

Choong, 23, has been in terrific form this season with two World Cup silvers followed by his stunning victory in Tokyo.

That saw the Brit secure an Olympic Qualification place and with 16 more (8 per gender) up for grabs in Bath, all eyes will be on his British teammates, including 2018 European silver medallist Kate French.

Curry, 25, is among a number of Brits to claim an international gold so far in 2019, his coming courtesy of mixed relay triumph at World Cup 4 whilst Toolis has been consistently performing on the international stage for many years, including a top 20 finish when the event was last staged in the UK back in 2015.

French, a World Cup winner this season is joined by Fotheringhay’s Jess Varley, Dumfries’ Jo Muir and Dorking’s Francesca Summers in the women’s line-up.

Varley and Muir have both enjoyed World Cup medals in 2019, 24-year-old Varley’s courtesy of individual bronze at World Cup 4 whilst Muir took mixed relay gold at the same event.

Summers, 23, a former Junior World Champion, was another athlete to compete in Bath back in 2015, impressively qualifying for the final as a then 19-year-old.

Summers, who finished 4th and 6th at the opening two World Cups of the season, is one of eight British athletes to record their best ever finish at WC level during 2019 with the battle for places to compete at a home Europeans fierce since the start of the year.

The first day of the Championships saw the mixed relay take place.

Performance Director Jan Bartu who was once again instrumental in bringing the event to Bath commented “This competition brings the continent’s top athletes to our home in Bath and it is also a great opportunity for the British athletes to compete in front of a home crowd and hopefully enjoy some success. We have experienced a very good year and we are now on 26 medals won by individuals and teams in 2019. That is unprecedented and I hope it is not over yet with both the European and World Championships still to come.”

The Championships, dubbed “Gladiators Return”, will see the best modern Pentathletes from across Europe descend on the former Roman Spa town which also played host to the 2015 Championships.

The event is the biggest Modern Pentathlon Tokyo Olympic qualifier with 16 spots for the Games available. However, competition for the Brits will be tough with European athletes currently dominating the international circuit. 26 of the 30 individual World Cup medals were claimed by Europeans this season, including all 15 in the women’s events.

The action starts today with the mixed relay before more medal events follow on Wednesday with men’s and women’s relays. Thursday and Friday are qualifying days for the individual competitions before the tempo rises again during the weekend’s big battle for continental crowns and the all-important Tokyo qualifying places.