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British Army supporting Olympic dreams of modern pentathletes

Two talented modern pentathletes aiming for Olympic glory are among those the Army pays to pursue a full-time sporting career.

Lieutenant Sam Curry and Second Lieutenant Kerenza Bryson both hope to represent Team GB at next year’s Paris Olympics.

And both, who competed for Great Britain in the World Modern Pentathlon Championships in Bath last month, say those dreams are massively boosted by the Army’s programme for elite athletes.

Sam, a member of 10 Army Education Centre Group, Tidworth, said: “I arrived at the National Training Centre in 2012, where I studied Politics and International Relations. After graduating from the University of Bath, I turned to full-time sport.

I had no idea about the variety of roles." Lieutenant Sam Curry

“In 2017, I went to King’s College London to study a masters in Conflict, Security and Development. I returned to Bath in 2018 and competed on the international senior circuit, qualifying for Tokyo 2021 Olympics as a non-competing reserve athlete before attending Sandhurst in September that year.

“Before then, I had no idea about the variety of roles. When I looked a bit further into it, I saw there was space to pursue my sporting, outdoor and academic interests. A key part, however, was that I wanted to have the chance to work with the wide range of soldiers who bring all kinds of skills, life experience and humour to any situation.”

Sam, aged 30, who grew up in Salfords, Redhill and now lives in Bath is currently on the Army Elite Sport Resilience Margin (REM). He won bronze on his European Games debut in the Modern Pentathlon mixed relay in Poland in June.

The former Whitgift School, Croydon, pupil said: “Without the support of my The Educational and Services Branch and Adjutant General’s  Corps none of this would be possible. They also often provide me with the opportunity to develop my teaching as a Learning Development Officer, which is the role I will step into when I return from the REM.

It’s something I feel grateful for every day.”

“My sport has been Modern Pentathlon for nearly 20 years now. I have had the ambition to compete at an Olympics for just as much time, and the Army is providing me with the resources and opportunity to fulfil that ambition. It’s something I feel grateful for every day.”

Beyond sport, Sam says the Army has provided him with tools to use when under stress or time pressure. “It’s also introduced me to people I wouldn’t ever meet outside the army who have shown me different perspectives and have become very close friends,” he added.

“As to the future, I look forward to being attached to different units, helping to develop their educational capabilities. I’d also like to become a platoon commander at Sandhurst as I really enjoyed my time there and feel it would be a fantastic opportunity to help develop future officers.”

Kerenza, known as Kay, a Reservist with Plymouth-based 265 Port (Devon) Squadron, 165 Port and Maritime, Royal Logistic Corps, won women’s individual gold at the Modern Pentathlon World Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria in May.

I have been able to access better training, coaching and more advanced kit." Second Lieutenant Kerenza Bryson

The 25-year-old said: “I want to thank my unit for their constant support and commitment to my Olympic dream. I am also extremely grateful for the Army Sports Control Board who have encouraged me since I started in the University Officer Training Corps (UOTC).

“I get a lot more support with pentathlon than I had before I joined the Reserves which has helped me hugely in performance progression. I have been able to access better training, coaching and more advanced kit.

“The support I have received through the Army has really contributed to my performances so far this year and will make all the difference next year leading into the games.”

Formerly a student at the University of Plymouth Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, she joined the Army Reserve for last two years of her studies and graduated as a doctor after six years.

She is now taking a year out of medicine to train full time for the Paris Olympics.

I joined the Reserves so I could manage alongside training and studying."

Kay, who grew up in Ivybridge, Devon, said: “I am a doctor by trade and will go on to practise medicine after I finish my sporting career. I am hoping to join the regular Army as a doctor in the future.

“I joined the Reserves so I could manage alongside training and studying, and it is teaching me how to manage junior officer roles and responsibilities.

“My unit supports me hugely in balancing my sport and medical careers. I wanted to join the Army for the opportunities in sport, travel, and the type of medicine I am interested in specialising in, trauma and emergency.”

Her day-to-day role, as a troop commander consists of Maritime Surveillance, career development and a new social media officer role. She also deals with any pastoral issues that may arise. She has also organised overseas Adventure Training events and has a group of potential junior officers she mentors and develops towards commissioning.

She says: “I don’t have time for much outside of Modern Pentathlon, the Army and medicine but I have paused my medical career for a period, so am hoping to find time for some of my smaller hobbies such as painting and reading.

“I have learnt about the working environment as this was my first real job. The importance of organisation, time management and team working.

“Also managing soldiers’ reserve careers is challenging and very individual. Making sure I know all my soldiers and can communicate well with them has been important.

“I have become better at public speaking and leading since working in the Army and have been able to apply the skills I have learnt to other areas of my life.”

The British Army is recruiting right now to fill 10,000 jobs across the UK with more than 200 roles to choose from, covering everything from frontline combat and cyber security to helicopter pilots, chefs and support roles. If you’re aged 16 to 50, and if you want to find out more about a career in the Army, click here.