The Milnathort 23-year-old has enjoyed a dream season, breaking Dame Kelly Holmes’ 12-year-old British record, and was viewed as an outside bet for a medal in Rio.
After a painfully slow start to the race the Scot paid the price for trying to go with Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon and Ethiopia’s world record holder Genzebe Dibaba when they broke away and then found herself swallowed up by the field with 150m to go.
Muir, who is training to be a vet at the University of Glasgow, crossed the line in four minutes 12.88 seconds as Kipyegon beat Dibaba to the gold. Jenny Simpson of the USA showed her experience to hang back then pick off the bronze.
An emotional Muir said: “I’m really proud with how I ran and I couldn’t have done any more on the day, it just happened that the legs weren’t in it.
“I am really proud with how I executed the race in my first Olympics and seventh wasn’t quite what I wanted but it will do.
“I expected it to be slow so I stayed at the back at the start and made my way through and I was in perfect position for when Dibaba went for it and I followed her.
“It was exactly how I thought it would go and I was prepared for it and I was feeling really good but it just happened that those last 200m weren’t in the legs.
“I had a look on the board and I saw that the gap was closing but there isn’t much you can do really. You just have to run as hard as you can but unfortunately the finish line was a bit too far away.
“For a first Olympics to make the final in the way that I did and to perform as I did in that final I am really proud. It will take a few more years to get that strength but hopefully I can look toward Tokyo 2020.
“My aim was to go with whoever broke and stick with them and hopefully I could have the strength to overtake them at the end but that just didn’t happen. I wasn’t aiming for fifth or third, I was going for gold so I am a bit gutted.”