Laura Muir confessed to a sliver of pre-race angst tonight in Doha. Despite a wealth of experience at the highest level, the sentiment was hardly a surprise. Ten weeks cooling off without a race, due to a calf injury. Then into the furnace of the World Championships.
The Scot, on her comeback, eventually proved cool as ice. And she eased into this evening’s 1,500 metres semi-finals with third place in the final heat in a time of 4:07.37. As gentle a return as she could have asked for. “It was a pretty good feeling,” the European champion said. “I was quite nervous before the race. I’m usually not for the heats. But it’s just been so long and it’s so good to be out there and feel like myself and be like ‘oh, I can still run’.
“I was just fortunate I knew what the first heat was run in and that was fast. So we knew I had to be in the top six and not mess around with being a fastest loser.”
Her Glasgow-based training partner Gabi Stafford nudged her out of second with Jenny Simpson ahead.
All eyes earlier were on their rival Sifan Hassan, whose coach Alberto Salazar has stolen the thunder from performances on the track following his four-year ban for doping offences.
The storm surrounding the title favourite will not distract Muir from her goals. “All I can do is focus on my performances,” she added.
England’s Sarah McDonald and Northern Ireland’s Ciara Mageean also progressed but Jemma Reekie’s entrance into Doha spun her quickly back through the exit door. The Scottish prospect – coached, like Muir and Stafford, by Andy Young – she sat third at the bell but faded to tenth.
“It was tough but world championships was always going to be tough,” the European Under-23 champion confirmed. “It’s a new experience as well so I was taking it all in.
“I’ll need to speak to Andy and see what went wrong.”
Eilish McColgan qualified for Saturday’s 5,000m final with fourth place in her heat in 14:55.79.
Instructed by her mother and coach Liz to step up the pace and burn off the competition, the 28-year-old was then compelled to follow instinct to ensure her survival.
“It was only with 150m to go that I checked over my shoulder and realised we were away and that I could back up,” McColgan said.
“It was weird, going into the last lap when you’re anticipating an eyeballs-out sprint to the line. But I had to calm it down and rein it in a bit.”