Laura Muir ran the second-quickest time of her career to finish runner-up in the 1,500 metres at last night’s Golden Gala meeting in Rome.
Despite finishing runner up to Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba, The Scot’s time of 3:56.73 was less than a second shy of the British record she established in Paris three summers ago.
Muir had been looking for a testing examination in her opening Diamond League outing of the summer and got exactly what she wanted.
The effectiveness of her recent training spell in the Swiss mountains looks beyond reproach.
Galloping down the home straight of the Stadio Olimpico like the thoroughbred she has become, the 26-year-old could not quite overhaul world record holder Dibaba, who had to run 2019’s leading time of 3:56.28 to keep Muir at bay.
Still, it was an effective opening to the defence of Muir’s Diamond League crown, which will resume at the Prefontaine Classic in California three weeks hence.
She will first stretch her range by dropping down to 800m in France next week where a Scottish best might be within reach. “I don’t get many opportunities to run the 800m,” said Muir. “So I’d certainly like to get in a quick time.”
Muir’s training partner in Glasgow, Gabi Stafford, landed a personal best in fifth place with Eilish McColgan one spot behind to keep up her own promising form with a time of 4:02.29.
And the Dundonian, who will now return to the 5,000m in Hengelo on Sunday, plans to vary her distances with one eye on 2020 and beyond.” It would be nice to have an Olympic 10,000m qualifying time this year. It still might be an option after Tokyo. But I’ll do a 5,000m in Hengelo, then another 1,500m in Rabat and then head back to St. Moritz. My last batch of training there worked really well and, if I can continue with another three weeks there, I think it will help because every time I go there, I seem to get another little nudge.”
Andy Butchart ran his fastest time since the 2016 Olympic final to finish eighth in the 5,000m in 13:09.33, less than a second outside his Scottish record. The 27-year-old, organising his own coaching in the UK after parting ways with San Diego-based Terrance Mahon last month, trailed victor Telahun Bekele who out-sprinted Selemon Barega to overtake his fellow Ethiopian at the top of the world rankings with a mark of 12:52.98.
Andy Pozzi faded at the very last to end up second in the 110m hurdles behind Russian Sergey Shubenkov.
Dina Asher-Smith was nudged into second in the 100m by Elaine Thompson but the Jamaican had to produce the speediest sprint of 2019 so far to thwart the European champion. The 2016 Olympic gold medallist ran 10.89 secs with Asher-Smith a mere five-hundredths behind to continue her impressive early-season form.
“The race wasn’t what I expected, and I had a really fast start which is really good,” said the 23-year-old.
“Opening the season with sub 11 seconds isn’t bad at all, especially when I’m still feeling a little rusty.”