Laura Muir enjoyed the breakthrough of a first major outdoor title on a glorious night for Scottish athletics in Berlin.
Muir stormed to European Championships 1,500m gold with an incredible display of utter domination and, minutes later, Eilish McColgan won a silver medal in a remarkable 5,000m. It was a first ever victory for Great Britain in the event and ended Muir’s wait to land a big one, 12 months after the agony of a hair’s breadth fourth place in the London world championships.
The 25-year-old from Milnathort, who is a double European indoor champion at 1,500m and 3,000m and took world indoor 1,500m silver earlier in the year, produced an awesome display of front-running to decimate the field, with team-mate Laura Weightman taking the bronze medal.
It was the perfect end to a trying season for Muir, who qualified as a vet after completing final exams which saw her miss the Commonwealth Games. Just a few weeks ago she suffered the disappointment of missing out on Zola Budd’s 33-year-old British mile record when she finished fifth at the London Anniversary Games.
The best of Europe had no answer for Muir’s class, however, as she made the break at the halfway mark. A lightning fast middle 800m in 2.03 had the Scot in firm control, with Weightman tucking in behind in what turned into that rarest of things – a true run middle distance race in a major final. With 200m to go it was clear that Muir had made no misjudgment as she streaked away for a brilliant gold in a swift time of 4:02.32.
Weightman yielded silver to Sofia Ennaoui of Poland but the gritty Northumbrian, who along with the great Dame Kelly Holmes was the only Brit to have won a European 1,500m medal, held off Ireland’s Ciara Mageean to join Muir on the podium.
“I just knew the girls had a good finish so the longer I left it the riskier it would be so I just ran as hard as I could for the finish line,” said Muir. “It was great Laura could get in behind me too. “It was probably the most pressure I’ve been under in terms of the level of expectation to win, it was something new for me and I think I’ve handled it really well. “I’m just thankful for the support I’ve had from back home and here as well.”