Laura Muir happy to be in background as she hunts British mile mark

Laura Muir is aiming to break the long-standing British mile record. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Laura Muir is aiming to break the long-standing British mile record. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty Images
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Laura Muir is ready to shoulder the burden of expectation as the spotlight shines on the rising star.

The Scot, Great Britain’s best middle distance runner, is expected to fill the gap left by Sir Mo Farah and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill in British athletics and deal with everything which comes with it.

She has already expertly handled a brief controversy earlier this year which gave her a glimpse of the glare she is now under.

In April, she took just 24 hours to terminate a proposed relationship with David McHenry, the lead strength and conditioning coach at the Nike Oregon Project run by Alberto Salazar, which has been at the centre of a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation.

McHenry has never been linked to or accused of any wrongdoing, but when news got out of the planned relationship, criticism followed to underline the scrutiny she is now under as the poster girl of British Athletics.

“I think it did,” said Muir, admitting the backlash surprised her. But the level-headed 25-year-old, who has just qualified as a vet, remains determined to avoid distractions, having won double European Indoor gold last year and reached the podium twice at the World Indoors in March.

She aims to break the British mile record at the Anniversary Games on Sunday and will be expected to shine at the European Championships in Berlin next month, although Muir is yet to officially confirm if she will run the 800m, 1,500m or both.

“I don’t really think about it, I just keep doing what I’m doing. We’ve got a really good set-up,” she said.

“The expectation is there because they recognise I’m doing well and want me to do well in competition. I see it as a compliment and confidence-booster rather than pressure.

“I’m not one to be dragged into that sort of thing. I’m not one to be on social media a lot or read through a lot of things.

“I just get on with the work in the background. The performances speak for themselves, I just try to get the work done, enjoy my life and try not to get too wrapped up in things.”

And she is focused on breaking the British mile record which has stood since 1985.

Muir was just half a second outside Zola Budd’s, pictured, record of four minutes 17.57 seconds last summer when she clocked 4:18.03 at the London Stadium. Since then she has finished fourth in the 1,500m at the World Championships and won 1,500m silver and 3,000m bronze at the World Indoors.

Defending champion Hellen Obiri, and Sifan Hassan – both finished ahead of Muir in the 3,000m in March – will also run in a stacked field.

“I know I can do it but it’s just if it comes together on the day,” said Muir, speaking at her training base in St Moritz.

“I’ve done it properly twice now, in Oslo and last year so I’m half a second out. I know I could have done it last year but everything has got to be perfect.

“I didn’t watch athletics much when I was younger but I was aware of the [Seb] Coe, [Steve] Cram and [Steve] Ovett scene and that the mile was an iconic distance.

“I’ve got the British record in the 1,500m but to have the mile record, something iconic in British running, would be something really special.”

Muir completed her veterinary degree at the University of Glasgow in May having missed April’s Commonwealth Games because of her final exams. The Scot admits she would be happy being a “bog standard” vet after retirement and will maintain her Continued Professional Development (CPD) to ensure she keeps up to speed.

But she is now a full-time athlete for the first time in her career and is enjoying the freedom it brings. “I loved the veterinary course and it was a great experience but there was always the little thing in the back of your mind thinking, ‘I need to sort that, go on this placement or write up this’,” she said. “I know I can only run competitively for the next 10 to 15 years and then after that I can focus on the veterinary and develop more.”