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  • Writer's picturePhil Packer

Great Britain Modern Pentathlete, Joanna Muir, joins the BRIT Ambassador family

We are delighted that Jo has joined our BRIT Ambassador family.

Jo has represented Great Britain in the Modern Pentathlon at both Junior and Senior level for almost nine years. She is a former Junior World Championship gold medallist and a World Cup gold medallist in both relay and individual competitions. In 2021, Jo secured silver in the first World Cup and is currently competing for a place on the team to represent Great Britain at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Joanna Muir - Great Britain Modern Pentathlete and BRIT Ambassador

“In July 2020, Dr John Mitchell, Principal Medical Officer and Mental Health Directorat for the Scottish Government, published A Think Piece on Mental Health Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Scotland. Dr Mitchell stated that a joint focus will be needed on both population wellbeing and on mental ill health. He said that the evidence base is still developing but suggests there is a need for whole population approaches alongside targeted support for at risk and vulnerable groups.

Worryingly, Dr Mitchell explained that there is an estimated 8% current worsening of the incidence of mental health disorders. He also said that there has been an increase in anxiety

and depression in young women and in the ‘diseases of despair’ – e.g. suicide and drug related deaths. After a steady decline in suicides, Dr Mitchell stated that these had risen in the last year with the biggest rise in under 25s.

Maintaining good physical and mental health is so important for young adult and student wellbeing, and it has been deeply concerning that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted these groups from being unable to socialise, play many team sports or take part in activities and training.

I am delighted to be joining the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) Ambassador family and applaud their determination to ensure that every Higher Education and Further Education student in Scotland has the opportunity to take part in the annual BRIT Challenge. I am thrilled that they have built relationships with Universities Scotland (through Universities UK), Colleges Scotland, sportscotland, Scottish Student Sport and are strengthening relationships with universities and colleges throughout Scotland.

The BRIT Vision is to support young adult and student mental health throughout the UK and it is great to see that the BRIT 2021 Challenge has been designed to be a UK-wide feel-good fundraiser that enables students and young adults of all abilities to take part wherever they are (at home or on campus); by hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding) 2021 miles.

I will do all I can to encourage fellow athletes, Olympians, Paralympians and sports personalities to join me as BRIT Ambassadors and champion the BRIT Challenge. I would be thrilled to support students and staff at University of Bath as they take on their BRIT 2021 Challenge, and the University of Glasgow and Dumfries and Galloway College, should they enter teams.”

Jo was born in Dumfries, Scotland, and graduated from the University of Bath with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Performance.

Modern pentathlon comprises of five diverse disciplines: swimming, fencing, riding, running and shooting. Each discipline is held separately, apart from running and shooting, which are held together in a challenging and exciting combined laser-run (formally known as the combined event), which is traditionally the final discipline of the competition.

Competitors gain modern pentathlon points across each discipline, resulting in a handicapped start for the laser-run. The winner of the competition is the person who gains the most points across all five disciplines. Thanks to the handicap start in the laser-run, the winner of the whole event, is simply the first person to cross the finish line.

Having started the sport at Scottish Saltires Modern Pentathlon Club, the first medal of Jo’s modern pentathlon career came at the 2013 Czech Open Junior Championships.

Much of Jo’s early success at junior level came from her involvement in various relay partnerships. With an incredible record of three Women’s Relay medals in her trio of Junior European Championships appearances, she also claimed the Women’s relay title at the 2013 Junior World Championships.

On an individual basis, Jo was beginning to show promise too as she secured a hat-trick of top 10 major international finishes, the best coming when she finished 6th at the 2015 Junior European Championships in Bulgaria.

Her first senior medal came with a Gold at the Swiss Women’s International, followed up with a fantastic 5th place finish at the 2016 European Championships in Sofia in a field containing numerous athletes who were about to head to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The then 21-year-old went on to watch the Games as a spectator and admitted it gave her huge inspiration heading into the following season.

Now a fully-fledged senior athlete, Jo began to replicate her junior relay success, securing a superb silver in the Women’s relay alongside Samantha Murray on her World Championships debut in 2016, followed by success at the 2017 World Cup 2 Mixed Relay alongside Myles Pillage.

Jo went on to produce a fine World Cup season in 2017; three top 20 World Cup finishes, including a maiden top 10 result at the final World Cup of the year in Poland. Jo finished 10th in the overall Women’s World Cup standings.

In 2018, Jo record a top 20 finish at both the European and World Championships, but it was 2019 that really elevated her standings amongst the best in the world.

Jo started 2019, with victory at the Budapest Indoor International, before securing two top 10 finishes in the 2019 World Cup series, a top 10 finish at the World Championships and a 4th place finish at the European Championships in Bath. Jo also secured the mixed relay gold medal from world cup 4 in Prague, sharing the success with Sam Curry.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic restricted competitions, Jo seemed to certainly be using her 2019 success to springboard into 2020, as she not only successfully defended her Budapest Indoor International title, but also secured her first ever World Cup medal in World Cup 1 in Cairo, with a sprint to the finish to take Gold.

Internationally, Modern Pentathlon is the only Pentathlon GB sport to be competed at the Olympics Games. Qualification standards for the Olympics is set by the international federation (UIPM) and is based on performances achieved at World Cup competitions, as well as World Championships and European Championships in the year leading up to the Games.

Jo was able to hold onto her medal winning streak into 2021, as her bid to secure her position at the top of the UIPM Olympic Ranking list remained undisputed. Joining Kate French on the podium with a British 1-2, Jo came away from World Cup I in Budapest with a Silver medal, providing a glittering start to her 2021 campaign. She ended the 2021 World Cup series with two 4th place finishes in the Bulgarian World Cups and will continue her campaign to grab more Olympic ranking points in May at the World Cup Final.

Since 2017, Jo has been an Ambassador for the Dorothy House Hospice Care charity in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire.

Jo trains at Pentathlon GB’s National Training Centre at the University of Bath. For more information on Pentathlon GB and the Modern Pentathlon, please visit the Pentathlon GB website.

To follow Jo’s journey, she is on Twitter @JoMuir94 and on Instagram @JoMuir_194


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