Athletics: Laura Muir turns down US colleges and stays home

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One of Scotland’s most promising young athletes has turned down enticing overtures from American colleges to continue her studies in Glasgow.

Veterinary student Laura Muir has decided against the switch as she targets the World Junior Championships in Barcelona this summer and the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

But another exciting teenage prospect, Olivia O’Hare, will move to the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma in August to join her brother Chris – the first Scotsman ever to win a Collegiate title in the United States when he triumphed in the mile event indoors in March.

It is a mark of 18-year-old Muir’s impact – she won Scottish titles at four different distances in a purple patch fortnight in February – that colleges in the United States took serious notice. “I’m really thankful to the colleges over there and it was very generous – it is amazing to think others are recognising your achievements from afar,” said Muir, from Milnathort.

But the first year student added: “I love my work here and I don’t think I could ever move from Scotland.

“It was a bit of a shock when they got in touch initially. It was quite easy to make the decision not to go – Glasgow Uni is so good for veterinary medicine. I’ve got great friends and really like living in Scotland. For other people it would be a really exciting opportunity, but it’s just not right for me.’

Chris O’Hare, however, has made such an impact at Tulsa and on the college athletics scene in America that his parents have no qualms about also sending sister Olivia, an Edinburgh AC athlete who turns 18 in July.

“Olivia will leave in late August,” said father Terry. “Last year was a breakout season for Olivia, taking championships in 800m and 1,500m and Celtic championship in 800m. She also got silver at the UK School Games over 800m and bronze at the England Athletics championship.

“While we thought that it might be better waiting until after she had completed sixth year at school, the fact that Chris is already at Tulsa and having a wonderful experience there means that she will have great support. We researched Tulsa prior to Chris going there and we were very impressed with the sporting facilities, coaching standards and educational reputation of the university.

“Olivia is interested in studying either law, pre-medical science, sports science or petroleum science.”

Chris O’Hare thrilled Scottish athletics supporters in March with his NCAA mile victory at the Jackson Indoor Arena in Idaho. Commonwealth gold medal discus thrower Meg Ritchie is Scotland’s only other NCAA winner.

Terry added: “Chris is competing at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford University in California this weekend. He is seeking a good time in the 1,500m to try to get in with a chance for selection for the Olympics.”

O’Hare will also compete at the Olympic trials in Birmingham from 22-24 June.