It was a midsummer’s night in Zurich when Zola Budd, at the height of her considerable but controversial powers, claimed the British mile record, just four weeks after an assault on the mark in Edinburgh came up short. Since then 33 years and two generations of pretenders have passed. Yet the time of 4 minutes 17.57 seconds has remained untouched by another British woman.
Laura Muir believes the day has arrived to finally usurp Budd’s efforts. The Scot’s form – only finishing outside the top two in one of her five outings this summer – suggests her planned assault at the Anniversary Games in London this afternoon can bear fruit.
A year ago, she was a mere 0.46 seconds short. With the European Championships barely a fortnight away, moving into top spot on the UK’s all-time list would be a significant marker laid down. The field has not been gerrymandered either to give her an easy ride with her Dutch rival Sifan Hassan, world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri and American foe Jenny Simpson primed to give chase.
“There are so many top-class athletes there so I am really excited to race,” said Muir, pictured, who has come down from altitude training in St. Moritz for the record attempt. “I have got a lot of fond memories of breaking the British 1500 metres record in 2016. That was a really big moment for me so hopefully I am trying for the British record but the field is very strong. If I can go back and get another British record, that would make me really happy.”
Chris O’Hare has already gone above and beyond by lowering his own Scottish 1500 metres record in Monaco to 3:32.11 on Friday.
He will likely get the ideal environment in which to reduce it once again this afternoon in London with a flurry of contenders – fellow Scots Neil Gourley and Josh Kerr, plus English tyro Charlie DaVall Grice – all parading themselves with the aim of landing the single vacancy that remains in the event at the Euros in Berlin.
O’Hare’s confidence will be in ample supply, a 180-degree pivot from three months ago when the foot problem that ruined his ambitions at both the world indoor championships and the Commonwealth Games. He had to rebuild body and mind.
“I was doing session after session and they were rubbish,” the British champion revealed. “I kept having to talk to my wife and my coach and asking ‘will this be all right? Will it click?’
“It was about having the belief that it would be OK, and having the belief from my support team who are constantly there and were telling me it would if I put in the hard work. And it did.”