Jen’s pentathlon is one of her best challenges yet

16th August 2013

A woman who has made a year-long challenge out of tackling lots of different sports says she enjoyed meeting some of the country’s top multi-sport athletes past and present as she took on her very own modern pentathlon test.
Inspired by London 2012, Jen Offord challenged herself to try out as many Olympic sporting disciplines as she could in her Inspire a Jen project.
Her modern pentathlon challenge was her 34th different discipline she’d had a go at in the 12 months – and she said it was one of the best yet.
Jen spent a day at the Pentathlon GB high performance centre at the University of Bath, where she was the guest of double Olympian and Sydney 2000 modern pentathlon bronze medallist Kate Allenby.
Just for good measure she was also joined for the challenge by Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist Heather Fell, Beijing 2008 Olympian and 2008 individual World Championships bronze medallist Katy Livingston, world junior championship medallist Sarah Langridge, and current GB athlete Katy Burke, a team silver medallist at last year’s European Championships.
She met reigning world champion Mhairi Spence, who defends her title later this month in the sport that sees athletes tackle fencing, swimming, show jumping and a run/shoot, all in one day. Youth athletes Ioan Baxter and Ellie Gussey also took part in some elements of Jen’s challenge.
“It was an excellent day and great fun,” said Jen. “It will definitely stick with me. I’ve tried the sports individually before, but not all together in one day. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had during the project.
“To train with so many elite athletes was a real privilege. Kate was brilliant. She gave me some really expert tuition so I could feel myself improving in the sports, and that added massively to my enjoyment of the day,” she added.
And Jen said she was impressed by the facilities at the University of Bath Sports Training Village, which is home to Pentathlon GB’s high performance centre.  “It’s an amazing, amazing facility,” she said.
Kate Allenby was also impressed with Jen. “I have tremendous respect for Jen for trying so many different sports. She put herself outside her comfort zone on so many occasions, yet she was really positive and outgoing about the whole challenge,” she said.
“I was really delighted to see her having a go at modern pentathlon,” she added. “She was very easy to coach, taking information on board and putting it into practice.”
Jen explained why she took up the challenge. “I was inspired by the Olympics and I was thinking about which sport to take up,” she said. “A friend suggested I try all of them and write a blog about it, so I did. Now I’ve done so many, it’s going to be really difficult to narrow it down to one or two to stick with, but it’s the taking part that’s important.”
With 34 disciplines ticked off her list, she is tackling four more before ending her challenge, with canoe slalom next on the agenda.