GUY Learmonth insists he is more than ready to run with a target on his back in Prague after signalling his intentions at the European Indoor Championships with a stellar opening salvo.
The 22-year-old arrived in the Czech Republic with his head held high after winning 800m gold at last month’s British Indoor Championships.
And in lowering his indoor personal best to 1:47.38 minutes a week after that triumph, Learmonth has made himself one of the favourites for the title in Prague.
But that added pressure didn’t seem to weigh him down one bit as he comfortably won his heat in a time of 1:49.38 to qualify for today’s final. And Learmonth insists there is still plenty left in the tank with the title certainly in his sights.
“I feel good, I knew when I saw the field that I was seeded fastest on paper this season so, in my head, I had to win,” he said.
“I managed to do that and I felt great. I was just trying to run a smart race so I tried to stay in control and nice and composed and I did that.
“You just have to stick to your routine and I’ll carry on doing that because I’ve learned what works for me and I’ll just keep going through the rounds now.
“I feel good and, based on where I’m ranked as well, I should be in the final but it doesn’t matter what’s down on paper because it’s what you do on the day.
“I’ll just get ready for the semi-final now because it’s a new race and it’s going to be quick and fiercer than that but I’m ready for it.
“I’m loving every minute of it so I’ll just go and get rested up now. I’ll just get a nice bath, get a massage, some good food and then chill out and play a bit of Candy Crush and watch some Dexter.”
While Learmonth was celebrating, there was disappointment for James Bowness in the 800m as he finished his heat in third, his time of 1:49.78 not enough to see him advance.
Kirsten McAslan made it through the 400m heats but failed to escape her semi-final as her time of 53.49 seconds was only good enough for fourth place.
There was better news, however, for Laura Muir, who progressed to the 3,000m final having run 8:57.71 minutes, the second fastest time of the day.
Only Maureen Koster of the Netherlands went quicker than Muir – by just 0.12 seconds – all of which leaves the 21-year-old full of confidence ahead of today’s showpiece.
“I’m happy with that. I wanted to just stay out of trouble and get through in one of those automatic places and that’s what I did,” Muir said.
“I pretty much controlled that race well and I think that will give me a lot of confidence for the final.
“The final will be completely different and will be a whole new ball game so I’ll just speak to the coaches and see how it works.
“I think you’ve got to be positive and think you’ve got a chance but it’s a strong field and I will have to produce another performance like that.”
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