Laura Muir reaches 1500m semi-finals – but the work starts here

Laura Muir negotiates her 1,500 metres heat in London last night. Picture: Getty.
Laura Muir negotiates her 1,500 metres heat in London last night. Picture: Getty.
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Laura Muir made a solid start in her bid to follow Liz McColgan, who became the only Scottish athlete so far to win an individual gold world 
athletics title in Tokyo 26 
years ago.

The 24-year-old from Milnathort has been hyped up as one of Great Britain’s top medal hopes in these home championships as she goes for a 1,500m-5,000m double but showed no signs of feeling any pressure as she eased home fourth in heat two of 
the shorter distance on the opening night.

Top six was all that was required for automatic qualification into this evening’s semi-finals and that was never in doubt as the double European indoor champion executed a commanding race.

However, she wasn’t the only one and the difficulty she 
faces in reaching a podium this week, never mind topping it, was made clearer than 
ever.

In her own heat, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands won in 4:08.89 ahead of former title holder Jennifer Simpson of the US in second, with Muir two spots back in 4:08.97.

In the other heats, the likes of reigning champion Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and South Africa’s Caster Semenya looked strong and that was all before Faith Kipyegon of Kenya coasted to win the third. 
But Muir can only control her own performance and was more than satisfied.

“I just wanted to get through and managed to do that, running on the inside for a lot of the way,” she said. “So job done, I just wanted to get that top six.

“It’s great to get started, it’s seemed a long time coming. A home games is just phenomenal, you can’t beat it. I’m really excited to be in the semi tomorrow.”

Muir received a rapturous response from the home crowd and teased them with the prospect she might produce a burst down the last straight before doing the sensible thing and easing down over the closing metres.

The Scot is getting used to the massive spike in interest over the past few months but is under no illusion that the hard work starts tonight.

“Women’s 1,500m running is probably the best it’s ever been and it’s great to be running against these girls,” she said. “I’m just chuffed to be in the semi and hoping it goes well for a final on Monday.”

Hopes that Muir can get among the medals remain high but Scots have already tasted medals joy, with the now retired Lee McConnell and current GB team captain Eilidh Doyle receiving retrospective medals after being part of the 4x400 metres relay teams edged off podiums by the disgraced Russians.

McConnell was part of the GB quartets at Berlin 2009 and Daegu 2011 who received belated bronze medals, with Doyle upgraded to silver for her role at Moscow 2013.

Muir, meanwhile, will be joined by team-mates Laura Weightman, Sarah McDonald and Jessica Judd.

Judd finished sixth in the first heat, which was won by champion Dibaba, in a personal best of 4:03.73.

Weightman secured a fourth place in the third and final heat, running 4:03.50. 
McDonald scraped through as a fastest loser after 
finishing ninth, with a personal best of 4:05.48, in the third heat.

Judd said: “It was amazing, it was so, so good and to get a personal best was fantastic. And the crowd – I’ve never heard a cheer like that, ever. That really was the highlight of my year.

“The race was stacked and I was ranked tenth fastest going in, so I thought ‘my goodness, this is going to be hard’.”

Meanwhile, Scotland’s Nick Percy, who was a late addition to the GB team, failed to 
qualify for the final of the discus as he recorded a best throw of 56.93m.