Laura Muir a real contender at world indoors

Laura Muir: Audacious 1,500m victory. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Laura Muir: Audacious 1,500m victory. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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With two laps remaining in the 1,500 metres at Saturday’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham, Laura Muir was on cruise control as the drive for home began. The 20-year-old from Milnathort has proven before that she has scant respect for reputation or prior form.

“I just went to the front and put the pedal down,” she said afterwards. “I heard the crowd getting louder and louder. I just gritted my teeth and thought: ‘If someone gets me, so be it.’ But I wanted to know I’d worked as hard as I could.”

It took one last lunge for the line for Muir to claim her fifth victory of 2014. None, surely, has been as impressive as this. Her time of 4:05.32 now nestles behind only Kelly Holmes on the UK all-time list but it was the sheer audacity that shone brightest. The veterinary student will go to next month’s world indoor championships in Poland as a contender, of that there is no doubt.

It will, she confirmed, be over 800 metres, where she retains top spot in the IAAF’s world rankings, courtesy of her outing in Glasgow three weeks ago. Muir may need to go faster yet to leave Sopot with a medal but she has met every challenge presented so far.

“Before, if I got budged or knocked,” she declared, “I’d get a bit intimidated or hold back. Now, when I get bumped I get angry and go past them. Tactically, I’m a much better racer as well.”

With UK Athletics selectors convening today to finalise their squad for Poland, the Perthshire prospect is the only Scot assured of a place. Edinburgh’s Chris O’Hare’s decision to venture to New York was of little benefit as he came fifth in the Wanamaker Mile. “Struggled the last few laps,” he said via Twitter. “Hopefully enough to qualify for the world indoor championships.”

Eilidh Child made a late choice to compete in Birmingham and was rewarded with third place in the 400m but even a season’s best time did not make a persuasive case for Sopot.

Jamie Bowie is hoping to be considered for a relay berth after coming third in the B race of the 400m in a personal best of 46.58 seconds. With four others ahead of him, the Inverness Harrier may only be the reserve. Lasswade’s Guy Learmonth failed to advance his cause when he came fifth in the 800m, behind chief rival Andrew Osagie and outside the qualifying time.

Others will also have question marks against them when the committee meets. English sprinter James Dasaolu will today have scans on a suspected calf strain sustained as he crossed the line in his 60m victory. Katarina Johnson-Thompson, the rankings leader in both long and high jump, will need a wild card from the IAAF to be in the pentathlon after illness saw her pull out of a qualifying event in the Netherlands.

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