Modern pentathlon: Mhairi Spence primed for world title defence

By Caroline ChapmanBBC West Sport
Spence recalls 'bittersweet' 2012

Reigning world champion Mhairi Spence has said she is confident of retaining her modern pentathlon title in Taiwan next month.

The 27-year-old Scot, who is based in Bath, beat four-time winner Amelie Caze at last year's event in Rome.

"I'm slightly apprehensive. I've never been in a situation where I'm defending a title," she told BBC West Sport.

"But I'm excited to see what happens. Training is going really well and I'm feeling positive."

She continued: "It was an amazing experience last year and a bit of a shock as well. It was nice to have the realisation that all the hard work had paid off.

"I'll be quite happy if I make it on the podium. I've done it already and it's been an aim since then to get on the podium whenever I can."

Spence's victory in Rome secured her qualification for London 2012 and boosted her profile as a Team GB medal contender, along with team-mate and silver medallist Samantha Murray.

A steady performance in fencing and swimming left Spence in ninth at the Olympics, but a disastrous show-jumping round - in which she accrued 104 penalty points - ended her medal hopes and she finished 21st overall after all five events.

Speaking to BBC Sport after the Games, Spence admitted she felt "destroyed" by her performance.

Reflecting on the situation a year on, she said: "I have bittersweet memories of last year. It was a whirlwind and quite stressful.

"I look back and I'm disappointed but I also think it was a great achievement.

"There's always that slight dark cloud that hangs over it, but it is true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. You learn from these situations and I'm definitely more resilient.

"I'm at peace with what happened and I'm happy to see what happens in the future."

Spence took time out after London 2012 to travel in Australia before returning to training in Bath in the new year.

Archive: Mhairi Spence's wild world title celebration

And she has rediscovered her form on her return to competitive action, securing an individual bronze at the World Cup in Hungary as well as a team gold at the European Championships in Poland.

"I only started training again in January but it's been going well," added Spence. "I've tried some different methods to see if we can improve some things.

"It was great to get back on the podium [in Hungary] and remember what I was doing.

"It's always great to bring home medals and to show that we are the strongest nation and stamp our authority on the sport."