LONDON 2012: Spence dreaming of Olympic gold - and some puppy love
MHAIRI SPENCE has no shortage of reasons to dream of modern pentathlon gold at London 2012 this summer - but surprisingly a puppy named Donald ranks high on the list.
MEDAL HOPE: Mhairi Spence is the reigning world champion in the modern pentathlon - but does not like the running course at Olympic venue in Greenwich (Getty Images)
The 26-year-old Scot, who sealed her place on Team GB in emphatic style with World Championship victory in Rome last month, is a dog-lover and has been promised a furry friend by her mother if she medals at the Games.
“She keeps moving the goalposts!” Spence joked. “I thought World Championship gold would be enough, but she drives a hard bargain.”
But despite having such pleasures denied her for the moment, Spence has plenty of cause to be happy. Still reveling in the title of world champion, she now has her sights on making the most of her Olympic debut.
“The Olympics was always my dream as a kid. Winning the World Championships is amazing but hopefully it’s on to bigger and better things,” she added.
“That said, Rome was a great competition for me. I knew I had to win a medal to definitely qualify for the Olympics. I thought ‘Well, maybe if I can swing a bronze medal, it’ll be great’.
"I used to look at the athletes winning gold at the Europeans, worlds and Olympics in awe, and now I’ve done it myself. But I’ve just completed phase one of the process and now I’ve got to move on.
"You have to keep your head down and I think it’s important to stay grounded and humble as an athlete, because sport knocks you down.
"I had a week off after the worlds and when I came back my shooting wasn’t very good. It takes you straight back to reality, especially when you’re doing five sports."
Spence and team-mate Samantha Murray saw off stiff competition to earn their selections - with Olympic silver medallist Heather Fell and Freyja Prentice overlooked despite also achieving the qualifying standard.
“It’s great to have such a strong squad,” she admitted.
“It’s good to know that if you’re matching each other’s performances then you’re pushing the boundaries to being the best in the world.
“I think that will continue throughout the summer. We’re a great group of girls and we all get on, and I couldn’t think of spending my summer with better people.”
However, Spence admits she's not a fan of the cross country running course in Greenwich, finishing fifth there at last year's World Cup final, after which she described the layout as her 'worst nightmare'.
"Running has never been my strongest event and the course in Greenwich is certainly interesting," she added.
"I described it as Everest last year, and it felt like that when I was running it. But we’ll tailor our training around running a hill course, and the course in Greenwich will be tough for everyone.
"Whoever designed the course definitely hasn’t tried to do a pentathlon, because they wouldn’t have put those hills in if they had. But hopefully I’ll be in good shape and won’t really notice them."
© Sportsbeat 2012