Laura Muir: Determination key for Scotland’s middle-distance star

The Olympic 1500m silver medallist is representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, where she will be hoping to add to the bronze medal she won at July’s World Athletics Championships in Oregon. 

By Sean McAlister
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Some races can get you into murky waters quickly.

Such was the case in the 1500m final at the World Athletics Championships where Laura Muir won bronze for Great Britain - her second major championship medal in less than a year after silver at Tokyo 2020.

The final had started at a phenomenal pace, with Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia sprinting from the start line to finish the first 200m in 29 seconds.

By the end of the first 400m there were audible gasps from the crowd as the time of 55 seconds showed briefly on the stadium clock, before being corrected to 58.05.

Still, the pace had broken most of the field as only four contenders remained in contention for the medals after the first lap.

“I knew it was fast. I didn’t look at the clock at all. I quite often don’t look at the clock in a final because I just want to race it,” said Muir in an exclusive interview with Olympics.com the day after the final.

“So I’m quite glad I didn’t look at the clock because if I had seen the splits, I might have freaked myself out a little bit because it was really quick.

“I’ve never run that fast the first 400m of a 1500m.”

By the end of the race, Muir had crossed the line in 3:55.28, the second-fastest time of her life, and secured Britain its first medal of the championships.

A whirlwind season that’s still going strong

The last twelve months have been a huge success for Muir, but it hasn't all been plain sailing.

At Tokyo 2020, she won silver in a thrilling 1500m where she came second only to double Olympic and world championships gold medallist Faith Kipyegon of Kenya.

“I was so emotional after that final because that was my first global outdoor medal and for it to be an Olympic medal and for it to be silver, and I ran a British record, everything came together at the right time,” Muir said.

She followed it up with bronze at this year’s Worlds, however sandwiched in between had been an injury she describes as the most serious of her life, which left her entire year on the track in jeopardy.

“It is probably the most significant injury I've had so far in my running career,” said Muir.

“I had a stress response in the femur, so it wasn't a fracture, but it's a stage before a fracture. So we were lucky. We caught it early, but just where it was in the femur, it was the sort where I wasn't able to run for two months and I was on crutches for two weeks.”

Fortunately for Muir, the injury occurred in February, but it still left her out of running action for a full two months.

In a year that included the World Championships, the Commonwealths and the European Championships, the disruption was far from ideal.

“It was tough,” said Muir. “And there were times where I wasn't too sure at the start of the season how I was going to perform in these championships.

“And I thought, you know what, if I can make the final, I'll be really happy.

“And then when we got closer, I was like, No, no, I can be competitive now. I feel I can be not only competitive but win a medal.”

Flying the Scottish flag proudly in Birmingham

Unlike the World Championships or the Olympics where she ran for Britain, Muir is competing under the flag of Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

She is part of a group of Scottish athletes that is now at the centre of a new golden era of British middle distance running, along with Olympic 1500m bronze medallist Josh Kerr, new World 1500m gold medallist Jake Wightman and British 5000m national record holder Eilish McColgan.

Muir puts the success of Scottish athletes down to having role models who can inspire you to achieve what they have accomplished and, in her case, even more.

“You just need to see one person doing it and say, well, why can't I do that?” she said.

And it is the self-belief that these role models instil in an athlete that allowed her to realise that you can go on and mix it with the greatest runners on the planet.

“I think it just takes one person to show you that you can do it, you can compete with and beat the best in the world.”

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