Laura Muir can be fully restored to prime health and form in time to chase gold at the IAAF world championships in Doha, insists UK Athletics performance director Neil Black.
Sidelined from both the domestic trials and the Diamond League final in Zurich due to the torn calf she sustained at July’s Anniversary Games in London, the 26-year-old was still selected yesterday in a 72-strong British team for the global showpiece which begins in less than four weeks.
No real surprise given that Muir, along with sprinter Dina Asher-Smith and heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, represent Black’s best shots at individual success in the searing heat of Qatar. Presently rehabilitating in South Africa with coach Andy Young, the European champion will line up in the women’s 1,500 metres on a quest for a maiden world title but without race practice.
Arguably the favourite for gold when she headed the rankings two months ago, Muir will still fancy her chances, given that Dutch rival Sifan Hassan is focusing on longer distances at the championships and that world record holder Genzebe Dibaba has been a non-factor this season.
However it is Muir’s ability to obtain a consistent peak that gives Black the greatest faith as his squad chase UK Sport’s target of at least seven medals.
He said: “The fact she’s got to run three races – that’s probably the challenge. How do you make sure she’s right at her absolute best at the final day when you’re coming off different preparation? But if there is anyone who can do it, it’s Laura and Andy.”
Barring any setback, she will be joined in the event by training partner Jemma Reekie, with the duo among 12 Scottish athletes bound for the desert.
With several berths wrapped up following the recent trials in Birmingham, discretionary picks following a day of contemplation on Monday included Zoey Clark.
She has the opportunity to repeat her medal at the 2017 world championships in London in the 4x400 relay, even though the Aberdonian fell short of the qualifying standard needed for an individual place.
Jake Wightman beat the cut in arguably the most awkward choice put up for debate, rounding off a tri-partite Scottish challenge in the men’s 1500m alongside Neil Gourley and Josh Kerr.
His recent pedigree in landing medals, Black hinted, won him the nod ahead of Charlie Da’Vall Grice, who leads this year’s domestic rankings on times but who has fallen short at multiple championships in the past.
“It was a nervous week,” admitted Wightman. Black said: “Jake has been a brilliant championship performer who has won medals at Commonwealth and European level. He has a range from 400m upwards. He has all of the different components within his bag to be able to use.”
Despite some late public prevarication, Mo Farah has opted not to defend his men’s 10,000m title but will face Callum Hawkins in Sunday’s Great North Run as the Scot prepares for the midnight marathon in Doha.
Eilish McColgan has been picked for the 10,000m at the worlds along side Steph Twell but the Dundonian may opt to plough all her energies into the 5,000m. “I’ve an open mind on it,” McColgan said. “I won’t decide until after my next few races.”