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The Women's Sports Alliance


Kerenza Bryson – Doctor, army reservist and aspiring Olympic pentathlete

“My life is a mix of sport, army and medicine and it’s a constant balance of trying to get all three right and not drop any balls," Kerenza Bryson tells the Women's Sports Alliance.

Image Credit: Kerenza.Bryson / UIPM / Pentathlon GB

Modern pentathlon was created specifically for the Olympics by a Frenchman in 1912, but it is a sport which over a century later is – based on performances at recent Games – effectively ‘owned’ by Britons.

With the exception of a rare ‘blip’ at Rio 2016, Team GB women have claimed at least one medal at each Olympics since a female competition was included for the first time in 2000.

Kate French became the most recent champion with gold at Tokyo 2020.

She joined an illustrious line of previous GB medallists which includes Samantha Murray (London 2012 silver), Heather Fell (Beijing 2008 silver), Georgina Harland (Athens 2004 bronze), Stephanie Cook (Sydney 2000 gold), Kate Allenby (Sydney 2000 bronze).

After a maiden World Cup victory earlier this year and recent World Championship bronze Kerenza Bryson, whose first name means ‘love and affection’ in Cornish, looks set to be one of her nation’s leading contenders to continue a proud tradition come Paris 2024.

“It will be hard but I'm gonna give it everything I've got,” she tells the WSA.

“I've worked so hard for it while juggling medical school and the army so hopefully now that I'll be able to dedicate all my time towards it (sport), I’m hoping to make some really big gains and see it pay off on the world stage.”

‘Born' to be a 'multi-sport' athlete

Image Credit: Kerenza.Bryson / UIPM / Pentathlon GB

The pentathlete could quite easily have taken another path towards Paris 2024 though given she experienced highly eclectic sporting experiences as a youngster.

“I was always one of those kids that just had to do absolutely everything as I had so much energy and I was super sporty,” Kerenza reveals.

“I was doing school cross-country, diving, swimming, taekwondo and because I got bored really easily I knew from there that I if I was going to do a sport seriously it would need to be something that was multi-eventing.”

Taekwondo gave her important “transferable skills” when it came to learning combat moves for one of disciplines within modern pentathlon – fencing – while her background in horse riding was another major plus.

“I think horse riding I've been riding before I could walk freely,” say Kerenza, whose mother is also a horse-riding teacher.

“I think I was always dreaming of going to the Olympics and doing eventing, but I knew that there were other sports that I loved as well so when I found pentathlon, after joining Plymouth College, that dream started to change from eventing to pentathlon.”

Medical career - military and medals

Image Credit: @Kerenza.Bryson

Training for five sporting disciplines is time demanding even if it is your only focus, but Karenza had ambitions which extended beyond a sporting setting.

“I’m a medical student, well, I’ve recently had my results back and I’ve passed, but I’m also an army reservist,” she reveals.

“My life is a mix of sport, army and medicine and it’s a constant balance of trying to get all three right and not drop any balls!

“I joined the Army really to help me balance them because they really supported my dreams and career choices within sport and trying to manage that with medicine as well.”

Image Credit: UIPM / Aisté Ridikaité

Just reading a description of her typical day is likely to leave you feeling fatigued.

“I have to get up by 6am often and a lot of mornings I do training before university or hospital and again after,” she says.

“I’d also squeeze running into a lunch break and then after dinner I’d do another training session before bed.

“I've had to make a lot of sacrifices to squeeze everything in, life a social life and self-care, but I’m parking my medical career for a year and a bit now (until after the Olympics).

“Now I've graduated, I'm really, really looking forward to having a bit more time not just to train, but to recover properly, to see friends and make sure I'm having all the right nutrition.”

World medal, Olympic quota and Olympic selection

Image Credit: UIPM / Aisté Ridikaité

This summer Kerenza solidified her status as Britain’s latest superstar of the sport by claiming bronze at the World Championships, and securing her nation a place in the women’s event at the 2024 Olympics.

“It wasn’t until about 70m to go that I saw I had some ground (on fourth place) that it started to sink in (that she had won a medal),” recalls the athlete who also claimed silver in the women’s team event at the Championships in Bath, UK.

“I want to say a massive thank you to my friends and family; to UK Sport and the National Lottery for funding us, to 165 Port and Maritime, my Army family who are standing behind me and allowing me to do this and to Pentathlon GB for hosting this amazing event!”

Kerenza will still need to gain official selection, which will take place after the first World Cup events of 2024 and while clearly in a strong position for that Paris place, she is taking nothing for granted.

“The (British) girl’s squad is extremely strong at the moment,” she admits.

“It's going to be really tough and brutal to qualify so it will all come down to those big results in the next 12 months or so.

“I’ll give it my best shot and that’s all I can do!”

Image Credit: UIPM / Nuno Gonçalves


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