Freyja Prentice had to go to the other side of the world to rediscover her love for modern pentathlon – and now she’s gunning for an Olympic place.
After the heartbreak of just missing out on competing at Rio three years ago, she was fed up with the sport.
The 29-year-old was the reserve athlete for Great Britain in Brazil, as she had been at the home games in London four years earlier.
Prentice, who grew up in Inverurie, decided it was time for a change and along with her husband, David, upped sticks and moved to New Zealand.
As she took a break from the sport which comprises fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, shooting and cross country running, Prentice discovered she still had the desire to compete at the highest level.
Back in the UK and back training, next year’s Olympics in Tokyo are now in Prentice’s sights.
She said: “I lived in New Zealand for two years when I moved over there with my husband.
“My family live in Auckland so it was nice to get over there and have a change of scene.
“I looked away from pentathlon after the Rio Olympics.
“Out in New Zealand I was mainly focusing on running and swimming and it was a change of direction.
“We moved back at the beginning of December and I’ve been gradually getting back into pentathlon since.
“The beginning of the season went well and it’s been great to get back into the sport with a new-found passion.
“Being out in New Zealand made me realise the sport is awesome and that if I can compete at a high level then I will for as long as possible.
“I needed a break from pentathlon after Rio.
“I was the reserve athlete for Great Britain and I had been in London four years earlier.
“So after Rio I felt I almost hated pentathlon because it had been my life for so long, and I was so close to competing at the Olympics.
“It was bittersweet travelling to Rio and being in the holding camp as reserve.
“I needed a break and needed a change of perspective to appreciate the sport more and learn to love it again – and that happened in New Zealand.
“I think I have a new appreciation for the sport because it challenges you in so many different ways.
“You only have a short lifespan you can do sport for.
“I think if I hadn’t gone to New Zealand I would have stopped competing in pentathlon.
“If I stayed here I would have drifted away from the sport – I did do that in New Zealand because I went to the other side of the world.
“But being in New Zealand taught me the good side of the sport that I’d forgotten about after being in it for so long.
“It was the break and change of mindset that I needed.”
Prentice, who has been back in Aberdeen training this week, is gearing herself up for the start of the Olympic qualification cycle.
Next year Prentice will have the chance to compete in four world cup events as well as the World Championships in China to try to gain enough ranking points to reach the top two in the British standings.
If she can do that then her dream of competing at the Olympics will finally be fulfilled after just missing out in London and then in Rio.
Prentice added: “The first qualification competition is next month at the test event in Tokyo.
“But because I was late coming back to pentathlon I accepted I wouldn’t be able to aim for that.
“My aim is the World Cup events which start next year, there are four of those which give you world ranking points.
“Then after that there are the world championships which can give you direct qualification to the Olympics.
“The British rankings will start afresh next year and I’ll have to try to be in the top two to go to Toyko.
“Ending up as the reserve is a high possibility again which wouldn’t be ideal.
“But now I realise and appreciate how good it is to be competing at world cup level.
“If I can get back to that it will be great and hopefully keeping that momentum going will give me the points to be in the top two.
“Going to the Olympics would definitely be sweet and I would definitely appreciate it more.
“I didn’t have Tokyo in my options so it’s been a big change to be aiming to go there.
“It would be awesome to get there.
“To have the opportunity to compete in an Olympic games is great.”