World champion Samantha Murray set for modern pentathlon return

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Samantha Murray
British modern pentathlete Samantha Murray won Olympic silver at London 2012 before claiming the World title in 2014.

Modern pentathlete Samantha Murray will lead an eight-strong British squad at this week's season-opening World Cup.

It is the first time Murray, 25, will compete internationally since she became world champion in September.

The Olympic silver medallist is joined in Florida, USA, by fellow world medallists Joe Evans and Katie French.

Mhairi Spence, the 2011 world champion, competed in GB winter ranking races, but has not yet taken part in enough events to be considered for selection.

GB Modern Pentathlon World Cup team
Kate FrenchJoe Evans
Samantha MurrayJamie Cooke
Freyja PrenticeJoseph Choong
Joanna MuirTom Toolis

The Sarasota World Cupexternal-link runs from 18-23 February and marks the start of a crucial season for athletes hoping to secure their places at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"It is essentially a long time since anyone has stepped into that bubble of the big event," said GB performance director Jan Bartu.

"We went with the top-ranked athletes based on our recent [selection] events."

The first opportunity to claim Olympic quota berths will be at the World Cup Final in June in Minsk, Belarus.

However, the European Championships, which take place in Bath in August, offers eight Olympic places and is seen as the key event for the British team.