AS a soon-to-be qualified veterinary surgeon, Laura Muir has applied herself for almost seven years to treat creatures great and small. Pity her unprepared track rivals, however. The 23-year-old is now assuredly among the Big Beasts of athletics in the wake of the European indoor 3000 metres record in Karlsruhe earlier this month which hinted that another level had been locked.
Already a hunter rather than the prey, the manner in which she stalked Olympic silver medallist Hellen Obiri and then left her for dead was a notch above what has gone before. If the Scot’s last lap unravelling at the 1500m final at Rio was the product of one minor vulnerability unearthed, then this winter has been about becoming ruthless and indomitable and the scheme appears to be hitting the mark.
Enough that Muir is gearing up for an assault on a world record over 1000m in Saturday’s Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham. “I’m really excited,” she enthuses. “It’s nothing I’ve really gone for before. It will be a great opportunity and I can’t believe that I’m at the standard that it can be a possibility.”
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Savouring the calm before this particular storm in her flat in Glasgow yesterday, a year’s sabbatical from lectures and classes at the city’s eponymous university has afforded her extra time to train and prepare. There have been two separate stints this winter in South Africa which she recounts with great fondness, enough to induce a slavering of envy. Such glamour.
“It was all work and no play, I’m afraid,” she giggles. “We were there for just over three weeks and it was training hard each day. To be honest, when it came to the rest day, I was needing it. But we were in Potchefstroom which is a nice little place with cafes and stuff so you could at least go out and about without going mad. And it’s good, when you can stay relaxed while training hard.”
Perhaps the novelty of such tours has worn off already? Anything but, she assures. “I went for a long run this morning and it was pretty nippy. My fingers were numb inside my gloves so I definitely appreciate the trips away to the sun.”
Some are funded by UK Athletics through the National Lottery. Others can now be expensed from her own trove, remuneration that comes from winning last summer’s Diamond Race, a doubtless increasingly lucrative endorsement deal with a certain Oregon-based shoe company and what is expected to be a carefully-chosen group of backers funnelled through the agent she now shares with a certain Jessica Ennis-Hill.
If she wipes Maria Mutola’s all-time 1000m mark of 2:30.94 from the books in Birmingham, another $20,000 will be added to the reserves. “No-one had mentioned that. I don’t know what I’d do with it. I’m usually pretty wrapped up in my training and my studies anyway to think about that. I’ve been restrained. I didn’t even have time for a holiday because I had a six-week work placement. I had to pay for the accommodation for that. I got myself a laptop but that was for work. I’m just saving it up.”
Her investment portfolio, she trusts, will be geared toward precious metals. Two golds inside 24 hours over 1500 and 3000m will be on her target list in Belgrade in a fortnight at the European Indoor Championships before attention turns to global conquest in London this summer. “I feel a lot more motivated to prove to people that I can perform on the world stage,” Muir affirms. “I want to keep the ball rolling.”
The Müller Indoor Grand Prix will be broadcast on BBC1 on Saturday from 1.15pm.