Without the distraction of preparing for a Commonwealth Games, Laura Muir has had the leeway to focus her energies on gearing up for the IAAF world indoor championships and completing her veterinary degree.
Absenting herself from the Gold Coast may, ultimately, prove a blessing when she lines up in the 3000 metres next Thursday on the opening evening of action inside Arena Birmingham and pursues the maiden global medal her talents now surely deserve. And the 24-year-old will get two bites at this cherry after her wish was granted to double up in the 1500m as well during the four-day event.
Ditto for Eilish McColgan, with the pair named yesterday in a 31-strong Great Britain and Northern Ireland squad which includes a further six of their fellow Scots. Offering both twin opportunities posed no real dilemma, performance director Neil Black acknowledged, after both earned UK titles at last weekend’s trials, with Muir winning the 3000m and McColgan the 1500m.
“They’ve both prepared well,” he said. “It was an option for both all along. They have both demonstrated at the weekend that their form and fitness is good.”
McColgan has made huge strides over the past 18 months, free of the injuries and ailments that threatened to hold her in check. Muir, however, remains the outstanding candidate for a host gold in the Midlands despite the arduous mission of completing her degree. She will arrive less than 24 hours before the championships begin after she begged two days off from her current traineeship in a charity.
“The good thing about Laura is that she’s dealt really well with the challenges of her intense study around the vet stuff she does,” Black said. “I think to everybody’s surprise she had dealt with it even better than expected. She’s applied herself brilliantly. Her performances demonstrated good progression.
“She’s confident. She’s going into the competition positively. Over the years, she has demonstrated that. I can’t wait to see what happens. I’m sure she’ll bring the best of herself.”
Her former training partner Mhairi Hendry is among the senior debutants in the GB&NI squad following a superb personal best at the trials in the 800m while Grant Plenderleith, recently persuaded to continue in athletics over a return to football, earns a maiden call-up for the 4x400 relay.
Outdoor world medallists Eilidh Doyle and Zoey Clark will go in the 400m and the relay with Edinburgh AC club-mates Jake Wightman and Chris O’Hare reunited in the 1500m.
“It’s terrific that we have more than one in four of the team,” Scottish Athletics director Rodger Harkins said. “A few people were saying Mhairi and Grant were shoo-ins but selection doesn’t work like that. But it’s good for them both to have a chance at something like this.”
O’Hare was among those awaiting his fate following the foot niggle that kept him out of Saturday’s trials and could cause him to miss this Sunday’s Muller Grand Prix in Glasgow as a precaution ahead of next week.
That he passed through the doors of the track in Birmingham was enough to meet the attendance criteria and his recent form – wins in Boston and New York and a lowering of his own Scottish record – presented too strong a case to resist.