Laura Muir shuts out Semenya debate, happy to race anyone

Laura Muir at the Emirates Arena. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Laura Muir at the Emirates Arena. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
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A fan of rollercoasters, Laura Muir is not the kind of person to worry about life’s ups and downs. Happy to strap herself in and roll with it.

That is why, while other athletes are wondering what recent IAAF rulings regarding testosterone levels will mean for their chances of overcoming the likes of Caster Semenya,
Muir, who was yesterday named as an official ambassador for the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow in March 2019, declared herself willing to take on whoever lines up against her on the start line.

South African Semenya, who suffers from hyperandrogenism, has dominated middle distance running, but the recent directives from the sport’s governing body means she may have to reduce her natural hormone levels if she wants to compete in the major events.

“I think it’s a very difficult situation. And I don’t know that there’s really a right or wrong answer. All I can do as an athlete is focus on myself,” said Muir. “Whoever is on the start line, I’ll race against. If she’s there, that’s fine, I’m more than happy to race against her. She’s a lovely person. I’ve raced against her quite a lot in the past and that’s all you can do. You have to leave it up to the governing bodies as to what happens. I’m happy to race against her. No problem.”

Muir will celebrate the end of her veterinary studies with a thrill fest at US theme park Six Flags next week aware that, as someone who has tested her own mettle for years, combining academic achievement with an athletics career that has also been on the up, she will now be able to focus all her energies on her track endeavours.

Sitting her final exam on Monday, the 24-year-old, who sat out the Commonwealth Games to complete a work placement and prepare for her finals, chose to forego wild partying to celebrate and instead has been catching up on sleep and looking forward to tackling rides like Batman, Ninja, Full Throttle and Scream as she heads Stateside for some adrenaline-boosting fun before she turns her attentions back to the business of racing, at the Diamond League event in Eugene, Oregon, on 26 May.

The biggest thrill of them all could come from her exam results, which will be posted online while she is embroiled in the business of enjoying herself. “I might be on a rollercoaster when I get my results! I would be like ‘yeah’ or maybe ‘yeah!!’. I think it is Wednesday next week that I get them,” added Muir.

The excitement for everyone else is in seeing how far she can push herself now that she has fewer off-track demands to contend with. “I don’t know how things are going to go now. Obviously I am going to have that extra time but sometimes when you have that extra time you aren’t as productive. But it will help a lot more in terms of preparation for competitions. I won’t have to dash here and there and I can focus on recovering better from sessions.

“It’s exciting. At the same time, I’ve still run a 3.55 [over 1,500m]. Can I run faster than that? I don’t know. But the past few years have been so good, it will be exciting to see what a bit more time will deliver.”

This year offers her and her coach Andy Young time to experiment with different distances, tackling anything from 800m up to 10,000m if Young gets his way. Muir is not quite ready to put in that many laps but with the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m too close on the schedule for the upcoming European Championships in Berlin,
she has already ruled out 
doubling up there.

“I don’t even know what distance I’ll be doing yet. But, coming up, we have a good mix of events; Europeans then a home European Indoors, the World Championships in Doha, next year. There are lots of different environments, different situations, and it’s all good practice building up to the Olympics.”