Laura Muir makes it look exhausting and effortless at just the same time. It is a cunning trick which the 24-year-old has now perfected but she worked another little touch of magic yesterday, producing the fastest 800 metres of 2018 so far to claim victory at the Scottish Indoor Championships in Glasgow.
Another day, another Caledonian record, this time at the expense of previous holder Lynsey Sharp, whose mark was obliterated as the double European gold medallist cannoned down the home straight at the Emirates Arena, her focus relentless as she careered across the line in a time of 1:59.69, 20 metres clear of British Championship medallist Mhairi Hendry.
Restricted to competition near her home doorstep while she completes her veterinary degree, her continued gains are all the more impressive. Today, she will return to a placement interpreting animal x-rays but her gifts here were wholly transparent, go hard and go quickly and profit from the results.
“I thought that if I could get close to my indoor personal best, which is 2:00.47, I would be really happy,” she said. “But to break two minutes and get the Scottish record back from Lynsey… I am just really happy.” She now has four of them over various distances but this is the one which still holds the greatest scope for exploration.
If she does a double at March’s world indoor championships in Birmingham, it will be the 1,500 and 3,000m which consumes her ambition. The 800m has remained an occasional treat of late and, for now, she and her coach Andy Young will keep it thus despite this impressive cameo.
“I am not thinking about the 800m right now for indoors so to be running times like that bodes really well,” she said. “Is it an event I think I could go back to later in my career? I think, so yes. I have shown that I can run fast over it. Andy says if I am still running fast over the shorter distances then I can keep running them so I think I am running pretty well.”
Fit too. Flattened by exhaustion at the close of the 800m, she was back on track 20 minutes later for the 1,500m as a favour to training partner Jemma Reekie, pacing the European junior champion for all but the closing two laps to spur an attempt to earn the world indoor standard.
The 19-year-old was on pace when her colleague stepped off but could not maintain it enough, closing in 4:15.69 despite winning by almost half a lap. “She has a lot of potential going forward and I just wanted to give her a bit of a helping hand to see what she could do,” Muir said. “It is her first race for a while indoors so I am sure she has plenty more to come.” 2017 world 4x400 relay silver medallist Zoey Clark set a Scottish indoor 200m record of 23.58 secs in her first outing in five months. The 21-year-old Aberdonian, honed by three weeks in Florida, appeared ready to make further strides after her rise into the elite last summer.
“It makes me so much more confident for the Commonwealth Games,” she said. “Nothing seems out of reach any more. I take a lot more self-belief going into my training and therefore my competitions as well. The light bulb for me was in Geneva last June when I made a breakthrough. That brought me to the top of the UK rankings. Obviously the worlds helped as well because I came away with a medal. That was definitely the light bulb moment for me.”
Elsewhere, Heather Paton equalled her own Scottish indoor record of 8.34 seconds to win the 60m hurdles.