Credit: Filip Bossuyt

UofG graduate Laura Muir faces surprise at the finish line in Rome

By Jacob Skipper

Vet school graduate Laura Muir earns herself podium finish as she claims third in the Rome Diamond League 800 metre final.

University of Glasgow graduate Laura Muir recently placed third in her final event of the season at the Rome Diamond League 800 metre final, behind Jemma Reekie.

Following a string of strong performances during the abbreviated autumn season, Muir was expected to round off her year in style with a triumphant win in Rome on 17 September. Only four days earlier she had won the 1500 metres at the ISTAF meeting in Berlin with a world-leading time of 3:57.40, beating her season’s best by .46s and making her the fastest woman in the world over the distance this year.

Less than a week beforehand, she achieved another season’s best in the outdoor 800m with a time of 1:58.84, leading the field by nearly two seconds as she crossed the finish line.

Her former roommate, fellow Scot and GB athlete Jemma Reekie, had held a five-race winning streak over that distance until a loss two days before this race, including a win indoors against Muir in February’s invitational 800m event at the Emirates Arena here in Glasgow. Her loss in the event in Bellinzona on 15 September saw Reekie head out hard in the lead for the first 300m, before succumbing to fatigue, essentially pacing the winner Hedda Hynne to victory.

On that night in Rome in front of an almost empty stadium, the three favourites lined up right alongside each other, Muir and Hynne bordering Reekie on either side.

Were it not for the loud music that echoed around the stadium, one could be forgiven for thinking it was a training session: Due to Covid-19 precautions, only the essential staff were there, a mix of officials and coaching teams that barely filled even one block of the stands.

After the brisk start in Bellinzona, Reekie was expected to begin slowly, aiming for a more tactical race. This should have played to Muir’s advantage, who was better rested having last raced the Sunday before; but once the gun fired the two Scots matched each other round the first bend as they settled into the front of the pack. Jemma Reekie found herself in the lead once again, and held back the pace for the first lap, reluctant to repeat the mistakes she made last time. As the athletes bunched up on the bend, Laura Muir pushed forwards with an elbow check to Yorigu who came around her outside and threatened to box her in.

Breaking out around the outside of the group, Muir found Reekie just behind her. With this she started to pick up the pace, quickly taking the lead as they came down the penultimate straight. Muir slipped back behind her training partner on the final bend. As Reekie pulled away, Laura Muir could not quite match the pace; Hedda Hynne of Norway, demonstrating the strong finish that won her the previous 800m event, eked past her into second position with just over a hundred meters to go.

Laura Muir did her best to hang on, but it was Jemma Reekie that led by more than a metre to win with a time of 1:59.76. This race closed off Laura Muir’s season. Although she looked tired on the approach to the finish, the fantastic world-leading result she had achieved on the Sunday before shows that Laura Muir will be back with yet more to give next year.


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