Originally pubished in the Scottish Daily Mail on August 21
By: EUAN CRUMLEY
SHE might have stumbled on the big stage before, but Laura Muir is determined not to fluff her lines this time.
As the nation’s eyes focused on her just over a year ago, with her nicely placed and the finish line of the 1,500 metres final in sight, the young Scot fell to the Hampden track and in that moment any hopes of a Commonwealth medal evaporated into the Glasgow air.
There have been other missed opportunities, too, but Muir’s response has been to simply pick herself up, dust off the disappointment and work harder to make sure the huge potential which is clearly evident in the 22-year-old veterinary student is realised.
There is no denying she has raised her game considerably in 2015, with a string of outstanding performances including a British Championship win and two quick Diamond League showings — one hugely impressive effort in Oslo where she went to the front from the gun and stayed there, then another in Monaco last month at which she smashed her personal best — and the Scottish record — by running 3min 58.66secs.
She may have finished fifth that night, but it was the quickest 1,500m race of all time, with Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba destroying the world record.
Legendary Olympian Kelly Holmes is now the only British woman ever to run the distance faster than Muir and it is surely a matter of time before that record falls, too.
No longer is Muir the newbie who enjoyed the ‘bonus’ of making the British team which went to the last World Championships in Moscow two years ago. She knows she belongs among the world’s elite and, when she runs in her heat in the early hours of tomorrow morning, she will set about aiming to prove that point.
‘I guess that in the past couple of years I’ve shown my potential at a number of individual races, but when it has come to the major championships, it’s not quite gone my way,’ she admits.
‘Sometimes that’s been my fault, sometimes it hasn’t. I’ve got more confidence in my abilities now and tactics-wise as well. I think I’ve improved so much over the past couple of years and I think it’s all coming together.’ While Muir herself insists she will be ‘pretty pleased’ to finish in the top eight of the final and ‘delighted’ with top six, you sense anything might be possible if the cards fall in her favour over the coming days. And she is certainly far better equipped to deal with whatever hand she might be dealt.
‘I’ve still been running PBs for all my distances this year, but I think my improvement has come more in terms of my tactics and racing differently,’ she says. ‘I’ve been victorious in a lot of races and winning the British Championships was a really big achievement for me.
‘The training has stayed the same, really, but I think my attitude has probably changed quite a lot.
The potential was there but I just wasn’t confident enough in my ability, whereas now I think this year with every single race I’ve thought to just attack it and just go for it.’
The vigour with which she has thrown herself headlong into her 2015 schedule suggests there is no sign of a Glasgow 2014 hangover.
Muir insists, in fact, that there were very few bones to be picked over. ‘There wasn’t a great deal to learn from the Commonwealths because I didn’t necessarily do anything wrong,’ she says of the incident when she was tripped in the 1,500m final with just over 200m to go and finished 11th.
‘Had I put myself in a bad situation or done something wrong in the race, then there would have been something to learn, but I think it was a case of bad luck.
‘It’s just given me a lot more determination and motivation to train harder.
I finished last year feeling frustrated that I hadn’t shown people what I was capable of and what I could do.
So I guess I just brought that motivation into this year.’ Having spent an ‘amazing’ training camp running at altitude among the mountains, volcanoes, monkeys and huge butterflies of the Gifu region of Japan, the scale of the task ahead of Muir is now coming into sharp focus.
And she is certainly not fazed by the challenge at hand.