Laura Muir was reduced to tears after failing to reach the final of the 800 metres as Britain’s athletes suffered a horror opening session in the World Indoor Championships yesterday.
Muir was tipped as one of the team’s brightest medal prospects in Poland following her performances this season, the 20-year-old Scot being ranked third fastest in the world in 2014 over both 800 and 1500m.
However, the veterinary student could only finish third in her heat in Sopot and although she was promoted to second when Iceland’s Anita Hinriksdottir was disqualified, her time of two minutes 2.55 seconds was not enough to advance to the final.
Muir did not recover from being blocked and lost ground as the athletes broke from their lanes after the first 50m. She said: “I tried to start off quick to get a good position but I think I got a little bit caught out and because I was in lane one, the field came across and I got a bit blocked off.
“I lost a lot of ground, it was a case of trying to get back into position and I lost a lot of energy. Not only does the rest of the field get away from you, but you’ve got to work twice as hard to catch them up. You know you’ve got to win the race in the first place and you can’t afford to lose that much ground. I just didn’t have it in that final 200m when I needed it.
“I knew it was going to be very hard and I probably should have gone off a bit quicker, but I tried as best as I could. I knew getting into the final would be very hard, but definitely something I was capable of and I still think I am. It’s just a matter of having a good race on the day.
“I’ll learn from this and it’s better to make a mistake now than in the future when there is a greater possibility of winning a medal.”
Britain won a record nine medals in Istanbul two years ago but only three of the nine athletes in action this morning advanced, Nigel Levine and Margaret Adeoye reaching the semi-finals of the 400m as fastest losers and Andrew Osagie making the 800m final by the same method.
Adeoye, who was fourth in her heat in 52.69secs, said: “It was messy. I’m a bit disappointed. I just put myself in the wrong position at the break.”
Team-mate Shana Cox missed out after finishing fourth in 53.10s and added: “There were some good parts to the race and some not so good parts. I will take some time with my coach to look at it and pick it apart.”
Richard Buck finished fourth in his heat but was later disqualified for obstruction. He said: “I am surprised at the disqualification because for me there wasn’t enough contact and it could have gone the other way. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to redeem myself in the relay.”
Osagie, who won bronze in Istanbul, had the advantage of being in the final heat and knowing what time he needed to claim one of the three places as a fastest loser. He finished second behind Poland’s Adam Kszczot but team-mate Mukhtar Mohammed was fourth in the opening heat to miss out.
In the men’s 1,500m, Lee Emanuel and Chris O’Hare were fifth and fourth respectively in their heats to miss out on the final.
Emanuel was pushed off the track at one point but refused to use it as an excuse, adding: “I got back in the race and I was there with 200m to go, but I’m really disappointed with the way I finished today. I felt I could close the gap and make the final.
“I was running on one leg for a bit and I was on the inside of the track. It didn’t knock me massively off my rhythm and it’s not an excuse as I got myself back in the race and I should have done better.”
O’Hare, who reached the World Championship final in Moscow last year, said: “You’ve got to come out and leave it all on the track and come away hoping you have done enough. I gave it my all, I couldn’t have given an extra step. It’s championship racing for you and I’m disappointed I didn’t make it.”
Elsewhere, defending heptathlon champion Ashton Eaton won his first two events yesterday to open a big lead, then watched his wife Brianne Theisen Eaton fall back into third place in the pentathlon.
After a fast 60m, Eaton’s long jump of 7.78m kept him in first place but left him behind his world-record pace from two years ago. The American has 2,012 points, and a healthy lead over Oleksiy Kasyanov of Ukraine with 1,870. Damian Warner of Canada was third with 1,861. Eaton still has the shot put and the high jump to go ahead of today’s three closing events.
At the same time, his wife was struggling in the high jump. The leader after the 60m hurdles, she only cleared 1.84m in the high jump, 0.04 off her personal best, to fall into second place.
The Canadian dropped into third after the shot put even though she set a personal best of 13.86m.
With two events to go on Saturday, Nadine Broersen of the Netherlands leads the competition with 3,035 points, followed by Sharon Day-Monroe of the United States with 2,919 and Eaton with 2,914.