Fourth fastest heading into the Olympic 1,500 metres final, Laura Muir is one race away from capping off the best season of her career in style.
Despite finding herself drawn in a semi-final with 2015 world champion Genzebe Dibaba, the Dundee Hawkhill Harrier looked more than at home in Sunday’s race, crossing the line third in 4:04.16 minutes behind Dibaba and Sifan Hassan.
That was good enough for fourth fastest overall, with Kenyan Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon the other athlete to run faster in the semi-finals.
That performance should come as little surprise, however, judging by this season’s results, which include Muir successfully defending her British 1,500m title before going on to break Dame Kelly Holmes’ 12-year-old national record when she won the Anniversary Games in 3:57.49 minutes.
On a night in which Usain Bolt landed his seventh Olympic gold and third 100m title in a row, Muir admitted she was revelling in the chance to star on the biggest stage of all.
“I just wanted to qualify for the final – you always speak about an Olympic final but it’s just an achievement to get there,” she said. “I’m really chuffed. I tried to save as much energy as possible. I knew I wanted to stay at the back at the start and stay out of harm’s way and then come through and be at the front before anything happened. My coach always sets targets for me and I keep on smashing them. I just feel like I’m doing everything he ever dreamed of and I’m going further.”
Not since Holmes completed a memorable middle-distance double at Athens 2004 have Great Britain been able to celebrate a medal in the 1,500m, either for men or women.
Muir, who is coached by Andy Young, is set to be in the mix to change that, while Laura Weightman is also flying the flag for the Brits having qualified as ninth fastest.
A medal of any colour would represent Muir’s first major senior international podium finish, with her personal best time more than five seconds faster than the times recorded in the semi-finals. Hassan and Dibaba will again be the ones to watch but after sticking well with them in her previous round, Muir was confident she has the tools to deal with whatever comes her way.
“I expected Hassan and Dibaba to be at the back and come through and I just followed them, so it was pretty much perfect,” she added.
“Me and my coach have watched these athletes enough, I’ve raced them week in week out so you know what they’re going to do a lot of the time. It didn’t phase me at all, I just knew not to burn up too much energy chasing them and just to make sure I qualified. You don’t know what they’re going to throw in the final. I’m just going to speak with my coach and rest up for the race.”
l Aldi is the first Official Supermarket partner of Team GB and has been championing our nation’s extraordinary athletes on their Road to Rio and encouraging the public to tuck into fresh, affordable, Great British food. For more information visit aldi.co.uk