Olympic modern pentathlete Jo Muir. Photo courtesy of Jo Muir.

Episode 248: Modern Pentathlon with Jo Muir

Release Date: August 4, 2022

Big changes are coming to the sport of modern pentathlon for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Team GB Olympian Jo Muir talks with Contributor Ben Jackson and breaks down what these changes are and how the sport will look.

Now, the changes you’ll see at Paris 2024 have been in the works for a long time – they’re not based off of the incident at Tokyo 2020, where medal favorite Annika Schleu couldn’t get her horse to cooperate and do the jumping course. During her breakdown, she and her coach both struck the horse, which prompted a lot of outrage [modern pentathlon is usually hurting for media attention, but this was definitely not the attention they were hoping to get at Tokyo 2020] and spurred another round of changes in which the sport will drop the riding discipline in favor of another sport. That you’ll see at LA 2028, if modern pentathlon is included on the Olympic program.

The changes for Paris 2024 have been in the works since at least 2020, with the goal of making the event a little more television friendly. As Jo puts it,

So I think they’re hoping that the competition is finished in like two hours. Which will be–and it it’s really good to watch. Like it is far–it’s just quicker and you are not sort of sitting twiddling your thumbs for a while waiting on the competition.

Jo says the order of events will be different as well. At Tokyo 2020, day one was the fencing round, where all competitors fenced each other. Then it was the swim, the fencing bonus round, horse jumping and finally the laser run.

At Paris 2024, the fencing is still separate, but the main competition will start with horse jumping, then move to the fencing bonus round, then swimming and finally laser run.

It’ll be interesting to see how the new format plays with audiences and on social. And it will also be interesting to see how the new discipline (currently being tested: obstacle racing) fits into this format.

Follow Jo on Insta: @jomuir_194 and @poised_pilates.

In our news from TKFLASTAN, we have updates from:

We also have some news from Paris, including an update on the reconstruction of Notre Dame, (please ignore Jill’s pronunciation) and we wonder how the Organizing Committee’s ever-increasing budget will affect venue locations.

Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!

Photo courtesy of Jo Muir.


Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note. If you would like to see transcripts that are more accurate, please support the show.

Jill: [00:00:00]

Hello, fans of TKFLASTAN, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics in Paralympics. I am your host. Jill. Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown, Alison. Hello, how are you?

Alison: Hello? I have been watching lawn bowls and

lots of things in cheering for Scotland.

Jill: so you have been watching Commonwealth Games.

Alison: I have been. And if people wanna talk Commonwealth Games lot happening on our Facebook group,

Jill: that is correct. I have, I’ve not seen much Commonwealth Games at all beyond the, a little bit of opening ceremonies that listener Patrick posted in the Facebook group.

But people are very excited in they’re. They’re enjoying watching.

Alison: and Duran Duran was in the opening ceremonies, which made it all worthwhile?

Jill: No, it didn’t because the show version that I saw had like a tiny bit of Duran Duran, not enough. Duran Duran to please me

Alison: had a close up of Simon. LeBon my, my 13 year old self’s heart could not contain herself.

Jill: well, you might be excited because we are talking to somebody from Scotland. I know so contributor, Ben Jackson is back with another interview for us. And he talked with Olympic modern pen athlete, Jo, Muir Jo competed at Tokyo 2020 representing team GB and took 14th place in the women’s competition.

She talked with Ben about her time in Tokyo, that changes to the modern pentathlon event that we’ll see at Paris 2024, and the changes taking place to get the sport back onto the program for LA 2028. Take a listen.

Ben Jackson: So, Jo, I wanna start with the 2020 Olympic games and the run up to that, right. We still call ’em the 2020 games, even though they were 2021. What was it like in the run up you’re getting ready to qualify, maybe you had already qualified and then the pandemic hits and what was going through your mind as all of that was happening?

Jo Muir: Yeah. it was a really stressful time. So in pentathlon you get direct qualification, at certain competitions, so you can qualify directly the year before the games. so either by coming top eight at the European or at the, it depends on, um what, continent you’re from, but , at the continental championships, by coming top three at the world champs or by winning the world cup final, but it’s it changes each cycle, but for Tokyo, the spots were only allocated to one person per nation.

So if your teammate. Came first at Europeans and you came third, the spot would go to teammate. which it didn’t necessarily mean that that’s who would be going. It just meant you’d qualified a spot for your country. So it’s all, very, very confusing. but basically I hadn’t qualified, individually yet, so, I started off 2020 season really well.

And I won my first world cup, and won the, previous competition before that. So I was in really, really good form. I’d always wanted to win a world cup medal, so to win gold, was amazing. And I was really, really ready, to sort of get my teeth into it, do all I could to qualify.

And then we heard. Stuff about a pandemic. Nobody really was sure what was gonna happen. it was obviously like very different in like different countries. And to start with, obviously it was like in China and you were hearing of people bringing it over and it was all quite stressful. but we just carried on training.

We had other world cups coming up, had to just focus on that. and then. It became a pandemic obviously. And, we all went into lockdown. To begin with, we were told that we’d be able to continue training because we’d have elite sport exemption. so we left on the Friday afternoon thinking, we’ll see you all on Monday.

On Monday that was when the actual lockdown was announced in Britain. so we didn’t go back to the training center again for. A good three months or so. but it was weird because we didn’t know whether the Olympics was gonna be going ahead in July, August, or if it was gonna be postponed or canceled, like nobody knew what was happening.

So I think that was almost worse because we weren’t able to train, [00:05:00] but we had the Olympic games and for five months. so I think when the Olympics was actually postponed, it was a relief in a weird way. It was kind. It was a strange feeling. Cause I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. going sort of off.

Back of start of the year, the way I started the year. but then it was also a huge relief because some nations were still able to train and were just carrying on as usual. Whereas we literally, I dunno what it was like with you, but we had like, Sanctions put on, like, when we were allowed to exercise how much exercise we could do or like leaving the house.

So we were only allowed to do like leave the house once a day for an hour. So when you’re trying to train for five different sports, it’s quite challenging. but I was lucky enough, my parents live on a farm, um and our farmers in Scotland. So I went up back home and I actually just, I did loads of training around the farm and me and my brother built a bit of farm gym, which was great. but yeah, it was, it was a really strange time. but I think in a way, Like personally for me, I think that extra year just allowed me to like work on the things that I hadn’t. I almost didn’t have the time to work on before the pandemic. So I don’t know whether it was like the kind of rehab stuff or like the prehab stuff, or, just working on my streamline in swimming with lots of stretchies, that kind of thing.

I was really able to work on during the lockdowns. and I think just as well, like matured as an athlete and as a person and. It all worked out in the end for me. Luckily I was very fortunate.

Ben Jackson: So let’s talk about this just as a quick reminder for people who may not be familiar. You mentioned you’re training for five sports.

Which five are you training for?

Jo Muir: Yes, so I do modern pentathlon. So it’s running swimming, shooting, horse, riding, and fencing.

Ben Jackson: You were able to go out to the farm. You’ve got a little bit of space there. Did you have access to a pool? Were there people to fence with, were there horses to ride?

Jo Muir: Oh no. we were in, we were very much in isolation, so, my brother went home as well, so there was like my parents, me and my brother. And yeah, I didn’t fence for. We didn’t fence again, properly until October, because even when we came back to training, we weren’t allowed to, it’s obviously you can’t really socially distance when you’re fencing.

So we weren’t allowed to fence for such a long time. And, horse riding. I actually, , I grew up with horses that was like my first, sport that I got into, but unfortunately we don’t have any on the farm anymore. so I wasn’t able to ride and. I eventually started swimming in the river when things were a bit more lenient and you could like go out and do some extra sessions and things.

So that was how I did my swim training. but yes, very different for swimming in a pool.

Ben Jackson: so, which one of those is your favorite? Let me ask that. First of those five sports, do you have a favorite or is it just like I do? ’em all. I’m in one big sport.

Jo Muir: So my favorite’s probably horse riding, because that was my number one, like sort of my first love, But it’s also probably the most stressful , in competition because it’s the one where you’re not completely in control of the situation.

You’re obviously, riding a horse and it’s got its own brain and, each horse is very different, very individuals. So yeah, there’s part of it. That’s out with your control, no matter how talented a horse rider you are. But I think it also makes it exciting that there’s that element in it.

and I do love horse riding and then I also love the laser run. So the running and the shooting’s now combined. so you run in, you shoot your target, you have to get five green lights, and then you run. So it’s actually just changed this year. It was 800 meter loops you would do. Now it’s gone to 600 meters.

So rather than we used to do four, eight hundreds, we now do five. 600 meters. so that’s also really exciting and a lot can change in the laser on it can really be determined by how you shoot and as well as obviously your running ability. So those are my two faves.

Ben Jackson: The horse riding in modern Penta though, you’re not bringing your own horse to the competition.

Jo Muir: No. so you get a strange horse. Yeah. Yeah. So you get, 20 minutes to get to know this horse, to get on it. Do a few jumps, there’s rules on how many jumps you’re allowed to do and things. So you’ve got to be really quick at like getting a feel for the horse. Like I always try and get down early and I’ll just like try and bond with the horse a little bit.

just so. You, you have to trust the horse. The horse trust has [00:10:00] to trust you. And 20 minutes is obviously not long to do that. so yeah, it is challenging and yeah, you can ride some very different horses. but all of the horses go around the course already with their, um for the competition stars with their grooms or their owners.

So it’s called like a test jump. So all the horses. Are able or are capable of doing the course.

Ben Jackson: I haven’t been around horses a lot. I’ve been on horses a couple times. How, wide a variety, like, can you get like a grumpy horse or a excited horse or a happy horse? Like, how do you kind of.

Do that and, build that bond. Like you say, 20 minutes, that’s not a lot of time.

Jo Muir: Yeah. You can definitely get like all of those kinds of horses. You get some horses that are really forward going. They love to jump, but the issue with them is they might get a bit. Fast. If they get faster, their cantor isn’t as bouncy.

So they might, we call it flat and they get sort of flat. So they might knock more fences over. Then you get horses that are just a bit stubborn and they might not want to be as keen for jumping. Um You really get a whole different variety. So I think it’s just about when you get on the horse. I like to take it through lots of transitions or walk to trot, trot to cantor can to walk that sort of thing.

Just. Get it, listening to you, get it, listening to your leg. I never do too much in the warm up. The horses are already warm, but I just want to sort of create that bond with the horse and then we’ll do a few jumps. so as you kind of have a feel for the jump as well, And yeah, then you, then you go through it.

um I think like quite often, like we’ll use our voice for like encouragement and obviously just like patting the horse and things like that as well. And yeah.

Ben Jackson: you don’t show up with like lumps of sugar first or anything,

Jo Muir: like sometimes some polos

Ben Jackson: so you qualify or. You’ve qualified. You’ve locked down. You’re getting ready to go. it’s 2021 at this point. Had you been vaccinated by that point?

Jo Muir: So I basically, I qualified, Through the ranking list. Okay. So six spots go to the ranking list, although it always ends up being more depends how everyone’s qualified.

but I qualified through the ranking list. So kind of found out, it would’ve been around about like the 16th of June, 2021. I found out that I was going to the Olympics so that. Not at that stage. I had had my first vaccine, so we were really, really fortunate. and we got kind of like fast tracked okay.

For a vaccine. So we were, , really, we were really lucky. so I’d had one vaccine was getting my other vaccine in a week or so’s time. so it was really vaccinated when we went to Tokyo. I’m not sure fulfilling you, maybe. Actually I might be wrong in saying, yeah, I dunno if you did have to be, but, it was obviously like very strict around COVID and, it was obviously so serious, so we had to be like really sensible.

so yeah, qualified and then it was, I think it got. Almost more stressful. It was something like that. I’d been working for my whole adult life and was so rife in England at the time. And yeah, like things were opening up. Lockdowns were easing, so people were starting to go out. I think, they got rid of like, it wasn’t compulsory to wear a mask and all of these things happened.

So to three weeks before we were gonna leave for Tokyo and the case is just spiked and we knew if we got it, then it was game over. and like, we wouldn’t have been able to go to the Olympics. It was just a case of being so, so careful. we really just isolated ourselves away, like me and my partner I live with, I think it was an absolute nightmare, was not letting anything.

I was obviously worried. but he was great and very supportive in things. And, yeah, and it was just in the training center as well, because we trained with some students, people of all different AGS. So it was kind of like they got told. If you’re here and training, then you can’t be going out, you can’t be going to the pub for dinner, whatever it was.

It’s like, you are here as a training partner for these guys going to fill Olympics. so it was pretty strict, but luckily it was all fine. And we all made it to the, to start light at Tokyo .

Ben Jackson: So what was it like getting into Tokyo and into that Olympic village? Were they testing you?

What was it like for you guys?

Jo Muir: Yes, we had. Testing it was, a month before we left?

We had to do a test two weeks before we left. And [00:15:00] then a week before we left, I’m pretty sure I’m right in , saying that. But then in the last two weeks before we left, every single day we had to do one of the later flows. One of the rapid tests every day, then we. When we arrived, we had a PCR test and then every morning we would have to do a PCR test.

so yeah, it was like strict and we weren’t allowed to leave the Olympic village or leave the holding camp before we got in. it was only like if it was scheduled to do so. So when we went to the training, Venue or if you went to competition venue, but you weren’t allowed to just go and wander around the streets of Tokyo

Ben Jackson: Did you have some time to train once you got there and get adjusted and, , even just the time change and everything else?

Jo Muir: Yeah, it was over a week before we competed. So I think we went out on the Monday and we were competing the following Thursday.

So we stayed at the holding camp until the Sunday. So we were there. Five, I think with the time difference and everything, we were there for about five days, at the holding camp. So team GB holding camp, all the other team G be athletes that hadn’t competed or hadn’t gone into the village yet were all training there as well, or staying there.

And then, we were train at the university, so Ko university. so yeah, we had the opportunity to train, which was really good. We had amazing facilities out there. and like the hotel and everything was great, and we all felt very well looked after. but yeah, it was, it was surreal as well, because so when I got to the training camp, it wasn’t even like we were in the village yet, but you would see these British athletes that you’ve seen on TV and you’ve always looked up to and they’d just be there, like having dinner.

Next to you and you’ll be chatting. And it was just such a surreal experience. You just had to pinch yourself and be like, oh my goodness. I’m really here. .

Ben Jackson: And so you you, you made it, and am I remembering this right? Was it crazy hot in Tokyo during the. Yeah. Doing the competition. I seem to remember, like it was pretty brutal.

Jo Muir: Yeah, no, it was hot. so we’d had prepared before we left. So we’d been doing, heat sort acclimatization. so for the two weeks before we left, we were in these portable greenhouses going on the bike, just trying to get used to the temperatures. and like there’s obviously science behind it and it’s trying to increase your capability to sweat.

so it was all like monitored and stuff, but we’d done that before we left, but then I don’t think anything can prepare you for just like how muggy it was. Okay. Because it was, sunny some days, but it was more, it was just so humid. but we were fortunate when we competed. Well, the laser run, which is the thing that’s the longest and you’re outside.

it was about seven o’clock in the evening that we did it. So it was dark. So the sun had gone away. So it was still hot, but it wasn’t like anything ridiculous.

Ben Jackson: So how does it compare to the heat wave you guys are having now?

Jo Muir: Honestly, we were all saying that to be fair. It, it was last week, but we were.

I don’t think it was as hot in Tokyo.

Ben Jackson: wow.

Jo Muir: like, honestly, it was so relentless last week. wow.

Ben Jackson: Wow. Yeah. So tell me about the competition then. How was it? you get to the start line and it’s time to go. you’re doing all the events in one day. Is that right?

Jo Muir: so we fenced the day before we did our fencing ranking round the day before, and then we do everything the next day as well.

So we have, what’s called a fencing bonus round. So, the main day starts, so we have, we’ve already fenced. Then the next day we start with the swim. Then we have the fencing bonus friend. Then we have the ride and then we finish with the laser on. so yeah, that was kind of like the format of the day.

Okay. So the, the previous day when we’d fenced um fencing has always been the one that I’ve struggled with the most. And I’ve had to like really work at and all season my fence thing had been going well. I felt like I’d had a breakthrough and I don’t know what happened at the Olympics, but my fence was so poor and it was like, Almost back to my old ways of fencing.

And I was so disappointed because I think I finished the Fe in like 33rd, outta 36. So I was right down at the bottom Olympics, rank sixth in the world, and I knew it was gonna be so hard to, to get myself back up into like the top six or eight, um at the Olympics. And I mean, my, my goal. To win a medal. I think everyone wants to go and like try and win a medal.

And I definitely believe that I could have if everything had gone right on the day, but, yeah, I think, I dunno whether it was like the pressure, if it was, we hadn’t done as much fence when we got out there, I’m really not sure. but something just didn’t click on the day of the fence. but I think in [00:20:00] a Penta you don’t know what’s gonna happen.

And I. I knew there was such a long day ahead of us the next day. And I was like, I’m gonna just fight till the end, try and make up as many places. so in the end I manage, I came 14, which was disappointing, but the whole experience was amazing. And I don’t want to think negatively about it too much.

and yeah, it. Amazing just getting to the Olympics and things. So, yeah, I would’ve loved to have won a medal, but it wasn’t to be

Ben Jackson: I want to ask you about that part of it, because about that, that variability of pentathlon, which is you get a strange horse. If you get a good horse, great. If you get a bad horse, That could cause a lot of problems.

everybody is training in five sports, so everybody’s gonna have strong areas and weak areas. When you’re fencing, you’re fencing, everybody else right. In the competition. It does it feel like as a competitor There’s a big element of luck to some of this, or, do you feel like if I train well enough and I plan well enough, I can kind of control the variables.

Jo Muir: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think you can definitely like control them. there might be. Like occasionally it’s completely out with your control. And like, I don’t know, you might just draw a horse. Who’s had a really bad experience in the first round and it just decides it’s not gonna go.

And I think that’s a really difficult one because you’ve not done anything to affect the horse. Like the horse could go around. It’s it’s tricky. So there is that, but I think if you kinda look at the results and like, It’s sort of all down to consistency and it’s kind of, you always see the same people at the top.

And yeah, some once in a blue moon, someone might have a bad competition, but I think, the top athletes all kind of get results, they sort of figure out. So, yeah. So it kind of like, there is, I think there are a lot of things you have to get. Right. But I think if you’re like prepared enough Then yeah, you can do it.

Ben Jackson: So I wanna ask you about the future of the sport now and things are changing and in Paris, they’re trying to tighten it up even more, right? It’s it’s gonna be. Faster

Jo Muir: together. Yes. So we’ve so we’ve actually started the new format already. So previously, like you said, it was all done over a day.

And I think in Tokyo, it was all in like the afternoon, so it was quite spread out. So I think we started it. Say oneish. We finished at seven, so it’s a long day for spectators to sit and watch that. So, they’re now condensing it. So you’ve already done your fencing ranking round. So this is just so just at the Olympics and at our World Cup finals.

So you’ve done your fencing ranking round. There’s 36 athletes. You all fence one another. So the same as before. But then you get split into two semifinals, so there’ll be semifinal a semifinal B. So it’s all done. I think it’s on your world ranking. But don’t quote me on that. It might be done on the fencing position.

I’ve not quite figured it out yet, cause I’ve actually done the new format once. But they’re meant to be pretty fair. And then you start with a ride. So you get an hour’s general warmup. You then begin with a ride, then you have your fancy bonus round, then you swim and then you laser around. So it’s.

Different order still finishing with the laser run. But the main difference is you’ve only got about 10, 15 minutes between each event. So depending on where you are, so we go in reverse order for the ride. So if you actually had a bad fence, you’ve then got a little bit more time to prepare for the bonus round, if rather than if you’ve had a really good fence And it sort of works like that through the competition.

So I think they’re hoping that the competition is finished in like two hours. Okay. Which will be, and it it’s really good to watch. Like it is far it’s just quicker and you are not sort of sitting twiddling your thumbs for a while waiting on the competition. So, no, I think it’s exciting. It’s. I think trying to cuz in our world cups, we then have a qualification round before that.

So it gets, there’s quite a lot of rounds and it can get slightly confusing. But I think once everyone’s got like the gist of it, I think it will be really positive.

Ben Jackson: So how hard is that gonna be for the athletes though, to, to sandwich all of that in to that, that tight of a time?

Jo Muir: Yeah, it’s definitely [00:25:00] tough.

And like, we’ve never had to do transitions or anything before, so we, we would run, we might have like, Half an hour, we’d swim. We’d have our lunch chill out for a couple of hours, have a fancy lesson. Like it was, we were never on, like, there was never any time pressure to it. Whereas now we started training, like transition.

So we’ll do a swim and then we’ll go straight into the run. And yes, just like training. And making sure you’re robust enough to be able to handle that. So I think that’s really important because I think there’s a lot more like risk of injury and things. And it’s also just sussing out like pacing and things.

It’s so I think the question is it’s like, do you want to swim a max 200 in 50 minutes time, you’re gonna be having to try and shoot. Four centimeter diameter circle, like from 10 meters, like, is that optimal for performance or is it better to maybe swim at 90% of effort? And then hopefully the shooting will be better.

Some people maybe it doesn’t affect them so that they might be able to manage. Really well and run really well off a max win, but others might struggle. So I think it’s, I think there’s a lot of learning to do. Just to suss this all out, it’s just a shame that there’s only three years or there was three years to do that in between rather than four.

Ben Jackson: Right. Well, so does this mean then. I imagine the sport was always strategic and the athletes always had to know themselves well, but does this change the strategy or the way these, that athletes have to approach the strategy and what they have to know about themselves, do you think?

Jo Muir: Yeah, definitely.

And I think nutrition has always played a part. Like a big part, but I think it’s now more important than ever because. you need to really suss out like your nutrition strategy, your hydration strategy then in between the rounds, it’s like your recovery strategy as well. So I’m doing the fencing round on the Monday, the semifinal on the Tuesday, I’ve got to rest on the Wednesday and then the final.

On the Thursday, like, how am I gonna make sure I get to the final, but then I’m recovered so I can give it my all in the final. So definitely, and I think it is at the moment. I think it’s just kind of like trial and error and trying different strategies and training. See what works best and going from there.

Ben Jackson: Have you guys been calling the triathlon people to ask about transitions?

Jo Muir: I’m not personally, but I think I think like our team have been like, Hmm. But I mean, their transitions are like in 30 seconds. Right, right. We don’t have anything like that to contend with, but yeah, we can definitely learn from other sports as well.

Ben Jackson: So par then that’s our next one and it’s gonna be tighter. And then beyond that, there’s talk of more changes to. pentathlon. and I’m wondering what your thoughts are about what’s happening with that. Maybe getting rid of the horses, maybe adding an obstacle course, but you’re already running and shooting.

do you have any thoughts about what pentathlon will look like and maybe what versus what it should look like?

Jo Muir: Yeah. So personally, Obviously, I come from a horse riding background and that’s what got me into the sport. So I’m really sad about the decision to remove horse riding, however. they had to change something.

If they were gonna keep riding, they need to change something. I think the riding has been an issue for a number of years and we’ve always said sort of in Britain. And my mom was a horse rider and things as well. So we’ve always had conversations and ways that we thought that they could change the horse riding, make it fairer, make the standard higher and.

They’ve changed. Um So these like the U I P N here are like international governing body. But they’ve never, they’ve changed other sports, but they’ve never done anything with the ride. And then it’s now got to the stage where rather than trying to reform the riding, it’s almost easier to remove the riding.

And I just think it’s, that’s the history of her sport. Like it’s the story that it’s meant to emulate the all around athlete and a soldier or a cavalry officer. To Warren, all the things he has to do to get there sort of thing. So I think it definitely is sad because horse riding is part of the history of pentathlon.

But yeah, like I said, they do need to change it. But I, I’ve not personally tried the obstacle course race, so I feel like I, I don’t have any opinion on it. Because I I’ve heard good things. I’ve heard bad things. I don’t know. I do. I think there should be another running race.[00:30:00]

Probably not like we’ve already got our laser run. I think an obstacle, an obstacle course race would be, it would create a completely different type of athlete because we’re gonna be getting athletes who are really strong. Like who’ve got really strong upper bodies. Typically, I mean, there isn’t.

Sort of one size fits all through pentathlon. It’s, we’ve got very different types of bodies, but I think typically we’re not that strong in our upper bodies. So I think that will definitely change if the obstacle course racing does come in. And I am worried about the future of pentathlon and its place in the Olympic program, because at the moment it’s currently not in the program for LA mm-hmm and I don’t, that’s gonna be decided until like the beginning of next year.

And it’s a real worry, me and my teammates and all the staff, like that’s our life and it’s what we’ve always done. So yeah, it’s worrying and I just really hope that they make the right decision and.

Ben Jackson: We to stay. You said you’ve thought about what you would do to reform the writing. What would you do to reform the writing?

Jo Muir: So I think there needs to be much tough for checks on writing ability. So in Britain we have to get a rating certificate. So we have to. Our writing instructor Jina. She has to go around and she signs it. If she thinks that you’re capable of writing, but she’s pretty harsh. Like , she will give you a certificate unless.

She knows who can, whereas I do think in other countries, they sort, I don’t know if any other countries have that, but I think you get people who are really good at four of the disciplines and they think of it as a triathlon and maybe don’t put the effort into the right. And I just think there needs to be, so this, since the Olympics there has been like sent offer rules and things and I think.

Now apparently if you get like eliminated in two competitions back to back, you get your, you get a sort of ban for 60 days. So you’re not allowed to ride for that long until you’ve like sorted it out. But I just think there’s so much more that could be done. And they’ve lowered the jumping height. Like I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing, but I think by lowering it, you’re maybe encouraging bad writing.

Because you don’t have to be as sort of talented at riding, but I think it’s really tricky. I think they need to be stricter in the warmup arena as well. And they definitely have been this year. I think there’s a lot that we could take from the FEI which is the equestrian governing body. And some of their rules and things, but it, it definitely has got better this year.

They’ve got stricter in reducing the number of stops before you get eliminated and things. But yeah, I think there’s definitely like more you could do

Ben Jackson: and that elimination does it eliminate an athlete from the competition completely.

Jo Muir: Um So your score is zero on the right, so you can still do the laser run, but you’re not gonna.

You’re not gonna be in contention for any sort of okay.

Ben Jackson: Result. Okay. Is that too much then? Does that make the horse kind of a, too much of a wild car? Should people be able to maybe bring their own horse?

Jo Muir: It’s tricky because I think pen pens, Haman has sort of. Previously, maybe being brushed as like an elitist sport and you’ve got to have money to get into it, which, and you’ve got to go to private school, which is completely untrue.

Like I didn’t go to a private school. I grew up on a farm in a very normal family. But I think if it was, you were bringing your own horse where you had to have your own horse, I think it then really makes it not accessible to as many people. And I don’t know, like. There. I dunno. It’s just the argument about money and things.

So yeah, it, yeah, it is a tricky one, I think as well, like we should be able to have longer with the horse to warm up. So maybe like when we arrive on the first day of competition, you meet the horse, you’re gonna ride and you can get to know it better. And then the horse trusts you more as well.

Ben Jackson: That makes sense.

Sure. So. I wanna ask you about two other things sort of related to that. One is, do you think laser run could be its own sport?

Jo Muir: Yeah, I think it could. And it’s got its own world championships now. It’s a really, really fun sport. I think if you haven’t tried it, you should definitely give it a go.

It’s just. Like you can get people who are really good at shooting or really good at running and or good at both. So I don’t know when, and you could be doing really well and then you could have a bad shoot and it just changes so much [00:35:00] like you, yeah. You just have to stay so focused and. It’s really fun.

Laser shift is great. Fun. I love it. Yeah.

Ben Jackson: I mean, I’ve, seen your pictures on Instagram and I’ve seen some of the stuff posted and it’s like, I wanna find one of these events. It looks like a great time.

Jo Muir: Yeah, no it definitely is. I don’t know. In America, I’m not sure what the pentathlon website’s called, but they’ll be like pentathlon America.

And I’m sure they’ve got like information on it and where you can do it and things. Yeah. And I know you can like hire the guns, like they’ll provide guns and things at the competitions, so no, it’s really worth a go.

Ben Jackson: And then the other thing I wanted to ask you about, cuz you talked about this I listened to your interview on the other 99% podcast and you mentioned something and I wanted, I’m gonna ask a follow up question from another interview, cuz I, I, I wanted to ask you about this.

I was want, I wanted them to ask you about this, which is you talked about being part of a team and you’ve mentioned being part of a team in this conversation. And even though you’re competing as an individual. How important is it that you’re part of that team that goes to the Olympics, for example, like what does that mean for you?

Jo Muir: Oh, being part of a team is hugely important. Like, yeah, I’ve, it’s an individual sport, but I have a huge team around about me. Like it wouldn’t have been possible without the team. So without. All of the support staff, all of the coaches. So support staff, I mean like the essence C nutritionist, physios doctors psychologists, like all of those people and then as well, my teammates, my fellow athletes like I think We’re all obviously trying to get the most out of our own bodies as we can, but we all just, we push each other on, we support one another. We all want the best for one another. And it’s, it’s like really healthy competition. So I think it’s like hugely important and yeah, I always think of it sort of as a team sport almost rather than an individual.

And then like going back to. What you said at the Olympics. And I think being part of like team GB was just huge. For me, that’s like one of the greatest teams in the world. And you have all these athletes from all the different sports, different ages. Like I can’t actually remember.

There was like the youngest athlete was like 13 or 14. The oldest was. Sixties or fifties or something like you’ve got such a range of people, but you’re all competing. You’re all there as one team. And I just love that.

Ben Jackson: And I, so to come back to this notion of the team and then also the pandemic when I was watching stuff and, trying to follow modern pentathlon up.

Tokyo, I found the Team GB Power of Five videos and the, workout of the week videos that you were leading. So I, I trained with you during the pandemic, whether you know it or not. How did those come about?

Jo Muir: Um I think it was, we had ideas. It was like before the pandemic that we really wanted to try and like.

Do more with the social media and get the athletes involved. And then it was kind of the perfect time because the pandemic hit and we were like, okay, now is a really good chance. So yeah, it was one of the girls that works in the office, Emily, she was like really behind it. And she was emailing us and.

Asking if anyone wanted to be part of the videos. So yeah, I enjoy doing stuff like that. So it was good. Fun, and yeah, it was nice as well because each week you would see a different athlete doing it. And it was nice that everyone kind of got on board. And

Ben Jackson: did, did you design the word of the week workouts?

Can I blame you for all the times when I said why more burpees

Jo Muir: I did not put burpees in that I would not have been burpees in. I don’t even think I knew how to do it burpy when I was doing those so that was not me. That I apologize on who it was.

Ben Jackson: Well, no, they were, they were great fun. I mean, those, those were wonderful and it was great to kind of have that.

And you’ve kind of continued to lead virtual workouts, right.

Jo Muir: Yeah. Yeah. So, last year after the games, I did my pulsation, so my Pilates mat work qualification. So I’ve started teaching Pilates. I’ve been teaching since January online. And I love it. It’s great. It’s just so nice to have something else to focus on and not just pentathlon.

I felt like for so long, that was. My whole life was revolved around that. And I think it’s really healthy to have that balance. So it’s really nice having, being able to put my [00:40:00] time and effort into Pilates as well as into my training. And I really think it’s. It compliments my training so well it’s kind of some of the things that my physio gives me.

I’m like, this is literally what I’m giving, like my clients and Pilates. Like it’s all of the prehab stuff that we’ve got to do to make sure I’m robust and not gonna get injured. It’s all the core stuff that we do before swimming in our prepo warmups. And yeah, just so good. And I think as well for your mind, Because when you’re doing a pate practice, you’re just really focusing on that like movement and on your breath work.

And you’re just completely clearing your mind cuz I think we’re all so busy now thinking of the next thing or on our phones are looking at screens and it’s so nice just to be able to empty your mind and just. Think about your body and what’s actually going on in the here and now. So yeah, I love it.

And I’m actually, I’ve been spent the afternoon earlier, before I spoke to you, just looking at some venues, I’m hoping to start teaching in person classes and um in October. So yeah, it’s exciting. But I teach on a Tuesday. Night. So 7:00 PM British times. So I’m not sure what the time difference is, but for anyone that is interested.

Yeah. I’m sure there’ll be a link to my social media.

Ben Jackson: Okay. Yeah, no, we’ll put the link in that’ll be great. It’s amazing what we can do now and what the pandemic taught us to do, right. With that whole sort of let’s shift to online and thinking about new ways to learn and to interact.


Jo Muir: oh yeah, absolutely. And it’s, it’s great. Just being able to do it from your living room, not having to go anywhere. I mean, I, you, it is amazing going to a class and all working out together, but yeah, it’s a great alternative.

Ben Jackson: So a couple more questions here. You, you mentioned this just a second ago about getting a break from the screens and one of the things that you did right in Tokyo, I remember was you, posted something, I think it was on Instagram where you said I’m taking a social media break, guys.

I’ll see you after the games. How important is that for you as an athlete to say, you know what. Now is the time I’ve really got a focus or maybe I need to get away from these screens, or maybe I need to get away from the crazies that are, bugging me about doing a podcast on social media. I mean, what was the thinking behind that break?

And do you think that maybe people should do that a little bit? More often.

Jo Muir: Yeah, no, I think it was really important. I’ve had like little, I call it social media CLS before because yeah, I think. if we’re always on social media, like one, we’re always comparing ourselves to others and we’re not in the moment when we’re busy scrolling through our news feed.

So yeah, I just, try not to like use it too much. And I think at the Olympics, especially, it was, I. Almost overwhelming. It was, it was really good and it was amazing, the support. And afterwards I was up until like 3:00 AM, like reading messages of support and things. But I just, before the Olympics, I just couldn’t deal with that.

Like, it was overwhelming because I’m not never experienced anything like it. So I. I really, really appreciated it all. And I read every single message after and replied to every single message. But just, yeah, before I needed to just focus on my competition I would’ve been up for hours the night before if I was like replying to everyone.

So just needed to like focus on the competition and just get my head in gear and not, I don’t know, not be doing it for the wrong reasons or be doing it for Instagram or whatever it was. So, yeah, I think it was the right decision .

Ben Jackson: And do you think that people should maybe do those, social media cleanses from time to time?


Jo Muir: yeah. A hundred percent. Like, I dunno, we had like some friends at the weekend and then my cousin stayed for a few days and like I realized I hadn’t been on Instagram for like four or five days. And I was like, it’s actually really nice. Like just being with friends and like actually having conversations and.

Not being behind the screen. Yeah. Yeah. And I do think it’s really sad, like when you’re kind of like walking into town and everyone’s looking at their phone and no, one’s just like looking around and looking at the nice weather or the views. So I think it can do us all good. I think, yeah. Even if it’s just like reducing it for on your commute and to work or whatever it is, read a reading a book instead.

I think it’s important.

Ben Jackson: Yeah. So let me ask you one more question here, which is if you were going to create a pentathlon, oh, what would it be? What, five events would be in Jo’s pentathlon.

Jo Muir: Oh, that’s a good question. I’d have laser on. Okay. I’d have riding. So laser on, I guess, is like the shooting and running.[00:45:00]

I probably, I would have swimming as well, I think. And I probably have cycling just cause I quite like cycling. I probably do we with fencing

Ben Jackson: fencing,

Jo Muir: me fencing. Just don’t get on we have a love, hate relationship. Sometimes, sometimes we get on sometimes not so much. .

Ben Jackson: Okay. Is there anything else that, you think that people should know about pentathlon or the future or, or anything else that, that we haven’t talked about that, that you would want to talk about?

Jo Muir: Okay. Oh gosh. I feel that’s a very open question. Not off the top of my head. Okay. Um But I, maybe I might just say that it’s been in the Olympic games in the Olympic program since 1912 and it was created by Pierre de Coubertin, who was the founder of the modern Olympics. So I just think that. It’s really important to kind of hold onto that history and like, remember that and like, hopefully it will continue to be in the Olympic program and years to come.

But it’s just worrying at the moment, like with what’s happening. But yeah, that’s probably it. Okay.

Ben Jackson: are you still doing the charity work? Do you wanna talk about that at all?

Jo Muir: So I’m still an ambassador for Dorothy House. I actually, I haven’t been there for ages, like after the pandemic, it got like really strict, obviously with like, People visiting because it’s a hospice. So it cares for people with life limiting illnesses. Um So obviously they have to be super careful.

But I’ve done. Like the last thing I did for them was little video promoting some of the events that they run in schools and things. So I really liked helping out and it’s such a great charity and it’s obviously in the local community and stuff and. Yeah, no, I would like to get more involved again and try and get up there and see them.

And how did

Ben Jackson: you choose that?

Jo Muir: I actually got approached by a friend of mine. And they were looking for ambassadors and I, he was like, we should be interested in this. And I was like, yeah, definitely. So yeah, kind of that’s how it started.

Ben Jackson: Okay, Jo, thank you so much.

Jill: Thank you so much, Jo and Ben follow Jo on Insta at @jomuir_194 and at @ poised_pilates

It hadn’t occurred to me that the new format for Paris 2024 makes it more like a triathlon with transition times, right.

Alison: Because they’re speeding everything up and you don’t have the leisurely pace of certainly 20 or 30 years ago where it was over multiple days.

But even what we saw in Tokyo over a couple days, this is, get those shoes off.

Jill: Right. that does make me excited to see what it will be like at Paris because the speeding it up.

It does really, as Jo said, TA make you think about strategy a whole lot more. And how do you attack each event? And that’s gonna be really cool. I think.

Alison: I just like the image of Jo training in the pond or the river for her swimming before Tokyo.

Jill: Oh,

Alison: welcome to TKFLASTAN.

Jill: It is the time in the show when we check in with our Team Keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests of the show who are now citizens of our country, TKFLASTAN. Starting off with some beach volleyball, Kelly, Claes Cheng, and her partner. Betsi Flint are playing in a bunch of tournaments on tour. This past weekend they were in Fort Lauderdale where they made it to the semifinals of the AVP Tour there. Next up, they are going to Atlanta this coming weekend. Kelly is currently ranked first on the AVP Tour in ACEs. Second in kills and third in terminal blocks.

Alison: Jayson Terdiman has officially retired from luge, but has joined USA Luge as junior national team coach.

Jill: Yay. And get well soon to Superfan. Sarah, who has, COVID.

Alison: Not cool, not cool.

Jill: We’re very sorry to hear that. And hope you are feeling better soon.

Little bit of Paris, 2024 news. The budget has increased rights, a Dixon in sports pro the initial budget for Paris. When they got the games in 2018 was 6.8 billion euros, which is just about the same in dollars. And now it is 8.3 billion euros, and that is likely to increase because of higher cost for construction and increased security.

meanwhile, they keep moving venues around like crazy.

Alison: They keep moving venues. They keep [00:50:00] eliminating places. Oh, we’re not gonna build this temporary venue. We’re just gonna use this shack in Pierre’s backyard.

Jill: are you talking about the new media center?

Alison: I am talking about the new media center.

So, yes, the proposed media center, which would have been the not broadcast journalist workroom was going to be a temporary facility. And now they are using a much smaller convention center.

Jill: It’ll be interesting to see how that turns out, cuz they are. The distance from each other. So I, I don’t know. We’ll see how it works for us.

I I’d love to see when these venues are finalized to be quite honest,

Alison: right? Are they just gonna keep changing this with each cost? Oh, we’re not gonna be able to build that. We’ll have to do this. Are we just going to eliminate whole.

Jill: don’t know.

I dunno.

Some better news though. France 20 four.com had an update on the Notre Dame cathedral restoration project. Cuz as you may remember in 2018, the aspire of the cathedral and the roof were destroyed and Culture Minister. Rema Abdul Malak has said that the cleanup phase of the restoration project is done and rebuilding will get underway at the end of the summer.

So the cathedral should be reopened in time for 2024 games.

Alison: Jill, I, I, I know you’re from Indiana, but it’s Notre

Jill: Dame.

Anyway, I’m I’m not changing it today. I’m feeling feisty. I’m not changing my pronunciation. I wasn’t asking

Alison: you to change your pronunciation. I just wanted to make sure we got that on the

Jill: record. All right.

Alison: Well, you know, Jacque will, when you’re in his backyard, he may say Mondu, we do not say that.

Jill: let’s give a big shout out to our Patreon patrons who keep our flame alive. And maybe if you’re a Patreon patron, let us know. Do you want me saying Notre Dame? Notre Dame?

I know what makes me sound like a, a, a Yole when I say Notre Dame, but it just that’s how it rolled off the tongue today.

Alison: And for Patreon, patrons who wanna get in on it, we have China stories and Beijing stories that you have not heard.

Jill, even Jill even kept it from me.

Jill: yes, our bonus episode for Patreon patrons. This month is all about one of the China souvenirs that I had forgotten and decided to look into because it’s, it was quite mysterious. So if you would like to find out more about Patreon, patronage, check out patreon.com/flamealivepod that is going to do it for this.

Let us know your thoughts about the changes to modern pentathlon.

Alison: And you can get in touch with us by email flame, alive pod gmail.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it, our social handle is at flame alive pod. And as I mentioned, be sure to join the, Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group on Facebook.

Jill: Next week we are going to have on author David Maraniss who you, you, who you may remember from our book club episode on Rome 1960, he’s going to talk with us about his new biography called Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe. So this is very exciting. We’ve had his son Andrew on, and we’re excited to have David on as well.

In the meantime, thank you so much for listening and until then, keep the flame alive.