Scot Laura Muir upbeat about chances of track success at Tokyo Olympics

By Nick Mashiter, PA

Laura Muir is confident she will challenge for the podium at Tokyo 2020 after learning from her Rio near-miss.

The 26-year-old is one of Team GB’s biggest hopes on the track at next year’s Olympics.

She appeared in contention in the 1500 metres in Rio three years ago, having been third with 200m to go, but finished seventh after being unable to match the pace when Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon made her move to take gold ahead of Genzebe Dibaba.

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Great Britain’s Laura Muir won the 1500m at the London Diamond League meet on Saturday (Martin Rickett/PA)
Great Britain’s Laura Muir won the 1500m at the London Diamond League meet on Saturday (Martin Rickett/PA)

Since Rio, however, she has been crowned European 1500m champion, won four European Indoors titles and 3000m bronze and 1500m silver at the World Indoors.

Muir boldly said she was in the shape of her life ahead of last weekend’s Anniversary Games, having been able to focus on being a full-time athlete after graduating as a vet from the University of Glasgow last year.

And with a year to go until the Tokyo Olympics – the Games get under way on July 24, 2020 – Muir is upbeat about her chances of success.

Great Britain’s Laura Muir came seventh in the 1500m at Rio 2016 (Mike Egerton/PA)
Great Britain’s Laura Muir came seventh in the 1500m at Rio 2016 (Mike Egerton/PA)

She told PA: “I know I’m stronger, faster and better at the tactics now than I was at the last Olympics. So going into Tokyo I’ll be in the best position I can be to improve on that (seventh) and hopefully get on the podium.

“It was one of the easiest races to reflect on and get over. I knew if there was a move made I was going to cover it and if I wanted the gold I had to cover it.

“Yes, I maybe lost a medal but I would never have won gold had I not gone with it.

“It’s what I went for and it didn’t pay off but I’m proud I went for it. Hopefully when I do it next time round I’ll be able to cover it a little better.

“You can’t control what happens in the race and in Rio I made a decision to cover a move and I stand by it. The 1500m is so unpredictable, you don’t know if it’s going to be run in this time or that time.

“It’s one you learn from. We didn’t expect to be an Olympic medal contender in Rio, so the focus has always been Tokyo, so hopefully next year…”

Her growing medal collection adds to the expectation on her to achieve in Tokyo, and the World Championships which start in Doha in September.

But the Scot is relishing the outside pressure as she continues her countdown to Japan.

Laura Muir is the 1500m European champion. (Martin Rickett/PA)
Laura Muir is the 1500m European champion. (Martin Rickett/PA)

She said: “The expectation is there because they are expecting me to do well. I see that as a confidence-booster. It’s surreal getting recognised more but it’s a privilege to be where I am in the sport so hopefully I can live up to expectation.”

Along with Muir, Dina Asher-Smith is tipped to win a medal in Tokyo with the triple European champion continuing to impress on the track.

Asher-Smith placed second in a world-class field in the 100m at London’s Diamond League meet on Sunday.

The 23-year-old, though, is playing it cool and will wait before beginning to dream about Olympic gold.

She said: “It’s not really in my consciousness. I’ll starting thinking about that in earnest next year.

“I’ve always been able to compartmentalise and concentrate on what’s in front of me.

“I feel like I’m in good shape but I don’t know. Ironically, I know we stand on the line and we’re all in direct comparison because we’re racing but I don’t always like to compare myself to other people like that because we’re all on our own journeys.

Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith won 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold at the European Championships last year (Martin Rickett/PA)
Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith won 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold at the European Championships last year (Martin Rickett/PA)

“If you look at someone like Kelly Holmes, she won double Olympic gold, the defining moment of her career, quite late in her thirties (34).

“Imagine if she’d been actively comparing herself to the people she had been competing against, she would have been like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not doing it yet’.

“So I always just try to find my own pathway, my own journey and I’m enjoying the journey so far, getting more mature, more experience. But in terms of where I stand competitively, I don’t know. I’m just doing me.”

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