Laura Muir remembers watching Kelly Holmes race to an Olympic double in Athens and recognising the feat as something special. Those memories have helped fuel the Scottish athlete’s own desires ahead of Rio 2016, where she hopes to build on last year’s World Championships, where she came fifth in the 1500m.
Still only 22, she has made a name for herself, bouncing back from a troublesome 2014 to earn the title of Scottish Athlete of the Year 12 months later.
That has given her a platform to build on and, having given up Christmas at home to concentrate on racking up the miles in some warm-weather training, she has returned to Scotland to fine-tune the speed before she swaps indoor events for the real business of the outdoor season.
One of seven Scots who will compete in the Glasgow Grand Prix at the Emirates Arena this weekend, she will be testing herself in a high-calibre 800m.
“I was altitude training in South Africa which was a great experience and I got three really good weeks’ training that weren’t hampered by the winter weather, which was really good,” she said.
“I think I’m in the best place I could be. My cross-country results showed that my endurance was good through the winter and now that I’ve run a couple of good times over 800m my speed is there as well. Both sides of the spectrum are looking good and I’ll have to build on that for the summer.
“It’s going to be a really top-class field so I’m looking forward to getting out there. It will be good experience and a chance to see where I’m at.
“This event will allow me to test myself against a really high quality field. A couple of races I’ve done have just been in Scotland and I’ve had to run by myself so it will be good to push myself against other athletes and get into that racing mindset again ahead of the summer.”
The indoor season has been good for Scottish athletes, with Lynsey Sharp also starting the year brightly, and that is a source of encouragement, not just for Muir, but for all Scottish athletics, according to the part-time veterinary student.
“It’s great to see that other Scottish girls are up there at a world-class level and Lynsey is running really well just now so it’s great to see. I think people are quite aware now that we’ve both had a couple of good seasons, Lynsey in 2014 and me in 2015, and we’re both getting up there in world-class level. It’s great for Scottish athletics. There’s a lot of girls in different age groups all breaking records which is great to see.”
A world-class event, the grand prix will be an opportunity for more Scots to emerge from the shadows, as well as a chance for Scottish fans to get a close-up of household names.
Andrew Butchart will run in the men’s 3000m, while Steph Twell and Josephine Moultrie will compete in the women’s event. Zoey Clark and Sarah Inglis get experience over 400m and 1500m respectively, and Guy Learmonth races in the men’s 800m. They will be joined by a world-class field, including Olympic and world champions Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford.
“There’s so many big names coming in all the events so it will be great. I love competing on home soil and it’s not often you get to do it in such a big competition,” said Muir. “It’s the biggest competition in the world for indoor meets so I’m really looking forward to it and it’s a great line-up.
“Glasgow showed in the Commonwealth Games that the support athletes get in Scotland is amazing and fingers crossed for the Euros bid in 2019. I think we’d be a great host and hopefully this weekend will show what sort of competition they can stage.”
This weekend’s meet will be Muir’s final indoor race. Then she will refocus on training and doesn’t plan to race again until late May or early June.
“I guess the main focus ahead of Rio will be the British Championships because that will be what cements my selection for the Olympics,” she added.
There she has high hopes of putting in a top performance and she will wait to see what that earns her. “I know myself that I’m competing at a very high level and it’s a shame the medals are maybe harder to get than in the last few years, but I’ve got to take it as it comes. 1500m is a really strong event at the moment but I was fifth at the World Championships last year. Rio is a bit of a way off so I’ll have to see how things go until then.”