Laura Muir winning diamond league 1500m (Getty Images)Laura Muir winning diamond league 1500m (Getty Images) © Copyright

We want Muir

No Olympic medal, no SPOTY nom. But Laura Muir’s achievements in 2016 are truly world-class.

No woman runs the 1500m quite like the 23-year-old Scot, whose instinct is to attack. 

“I just go out and run the best race I can,” she tells FS. It is an approach that has brought great rewards in her career to date. But it has also brought devastation. 

In the fast-paced, time trial races that make up the regular athletics season, Muir was unstoppable in 2016. Her aggressive style saw her finish top of the season’s Diamond League standings ahead of the best from Ethiopia, Kenya and the US 

Muir’s winning time of 3:57.49 in the last Diamond League race before she flew to Rio 2016 made her the fastest Brit ever, breaking Kelly Holmes’ record from Athens 2004. 

Laura Muir reacts to winning Diamond League (Getty Images)

In Brazil she applied the same tactics. The only problem is that the final played out completely differently. Championship races tend to be cagey affairs and the Rio final was no different. The 12 women virtually jogged the first half. It was only with two laps to go that the race kicked off. Inevitably, Muir led the charge, going stride-for- stride with world record holder Genzebe Dibaba. 

“I knew I could have sat back when the break happened and hopefully finished near the front,” she says, “but I wanted to go for that gold medal.” 

But the break had come too early. With 200m to go Muir faded, helpless in the battle against rising lactic and the runners who had conserved their energy. The result was crushing: Muir finished seventh behind Faith Kipyegon who won with a time of 4:08.92.

Laura Mui at Rio  (Getty Images)

“I was gutted,” Muir admits. But she has no regrets. “I wouldn’t have run it any other way. I went for it and it just didn’t happen.” 

Muir didn’t allow that disappointment to define her season. Her first race after Rio was at the Paris Diamond League, where she was pitted against many of the same women she had faced in Rio, including Kipyegon. 

The pace was fast. With a lap to go Muir attacked. There would be no fading this time. She won in 3:55.22, the fastest time run by any woman all year, faster than any Kenyan or American in history. Vindication. “I think I showed in Paris that I was capable of doing it,” she says. 

Laura Muir winning Paris Diamond League (Getty Images)

To give context to just how good that time is, all of the twelve women in history who have run faster have question marks against their names relating to doping violations. 

The real story here is not the list of tainted athletes, it is how staggeringly fast a veterinary student from Kinross is running clean. In purely athletic terms it makes Muir one of her discipline’s all-time greats. 

Would she trade in her night of history-making in Paris for gold in Rio? 

“I’ll definitely take what I’ve got, but if there was the option to swap I think you’ve got to say yes,” she concedes. “There was just that one little thing that I didn’t quite get. But I’ve got opportunities yet.” 

Images - Getty

Want more like this? Check out our interview with champion obstacle runner Amelia Boone - Multitasking for badasses 


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