Saturday, 04 March 2017 20:44

European Indoor Athletics: Laura Muir breaks 1500m record to win gold

No one, it would seem, can stop Laura Muir.

Not even the track official that tried to deny her a lap of honour after breaking a 32-year-old European Athletics Indoor Championship record for the 1500metre en route to gold.

Muir has been riding a crest of a wave throughout the indoor season. But that has been the case before only to be denied on the biggest stage from the European Championships in Zurich to the Olympics last summer, tears flowing on both occasions.

On Saturday night in Belgrade, Muir was all smiles after finally delivering with a staggeringly dominant run that had echoes of Mo Farah’s on-track dominance of recent years.

“It has been a long time coming,” she said. “It feels like the last few years, it’s slipped past. But now it’s a medal and I’m so happy.”

The diminutive Scot, who measures in at 5ft 3in, toyed with the field, dropping right to the back for the opening lap before surging into the lead a lap later, steadily upping the pace until there were no rivals left with her.

Her winning time of 4:02.40 took three seconds off her personal best and led to the great and good of British athletics weighing in with their congratulations.

IAAF president Seb Coe nodded and applauded from the stands, while Jessica Ennis-Hill hailed it as a “stunning performance”. Despite the disparity in their distances, comparisons have been drawn between Muir and Paula Radcliffe, who was commentating for the BBC.

Radcliffe joked simply “No stopping Laura Muir - literally!” as an official repeatedly tried to block her passage from a lap of honour. She merely ducked around her, grabbed a flag and finally had her moment in the spotlight.

Of that lap of honour, she added: “I had to fight for that didn’t I? They said ‘we don’t have time’. I thought it’s my first medal, I’m not going to lose out on my lap of honour. I’m going.

“I didn’t really say anything. I couldn’t really believe what she was saying but I thought, at the end of the day, she won’t be able to catch me.”

But Muir’s task in Belgrade is only half done, her heart set on double gold and she returns to the track on Sunday with her sights on victory in the 3000m, the tougher of her two tasks here in the Serbian capital.

Of that next race, she said: "It will be tougher. I'm going to have to try and hang on. Hopefully, I can come away with another gold but, if not, it's been a pretty hard weekend. I won't beat myself up too much about it."

Barely a kilometre away, fireworks were being let off inside the stadium for the home derby between Red Star and Partizan Belgrade. Muir’s indoor fireworks to date have been no less impressive.