Narrow miss for Laura Muir

Published

Laura Muir in the Great North City Games

Ruairidh Campbell
Writer

University of Glasgow student Laura Muir came agonisingly close to medalling at the recent International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletics Championships in London, beaten by seven hundredths of a second into fourth place in an enthralling 1500m final.

Just a few days later, she was back on the track and following a tough qualifying heat, she finished 6th in the 500m final. This was an impressive feat considering this was her first international-standard race over the distance.

At the age of just 24, Muir was already competing in her third World Championships. The final year Veterinary Medicine student went into the meet as one of Great Britain’s top medal prospects following her Diamond League win in Oslo two years ago and her world leading time over the 1500m in 2016.

Nonetheless, the challenge would be a difficult one with the women’s 1500m event featuring a plethora of global stars, including world record holder Genzebe Dibaba.

After a smooth qualification process, the 1500m final lived up to the crowd’s high expectations as race tactics changed dramatically with every lap. With 200m to go, Muir made her move and pushed up to third, looking in good contention for a medal.

However, the furious pace of the last 600m took its toll as she was chased down by 800m specialist Caster Semenya. In the end a dip at the line was all that separated the two athletes between third and fourth.

Following a short recovery, the Inverness-born athlete returned for the 5000m heats but was left hoping to cling onto a fastest loser slot as the heavy period of racing in the days previous began to take its toll. However, a slower second heat eventually guaranteed the Glasgow athlete her place in the final alongside fellow scot Eilish McColgan.

In less dramatic fashion than her earlier final, the conclusion of the 5000m competition saw gritty performances from both Scots. A frighteningly quick 800m midway through from the leaders made it tough for Muir to hold on near the front.

Nonetheless, a strong final lap allowed her to break from her group, eventually crossing the line in sixth place with a time of 14.52.07, just three seconds away from her personal best.

Although unable to claim a medal many believed possible in these championships, the 24-year-old’s performances in London certainly moved her reputation on from breakthrough star to consistent world title contender. A place on the podium now looks closer than ever.