LAURA Muir has grown accustomed to picking up prizes during 2018 but there was no disguising the emotion in her voice as she accepted the FPSG Athlete of the Year award at a glitzy ceremony in Glasgow’s Hilton Hotel late on Saturday night.
Announced on stage by guest of honour Dame Kelly Holmes as ‘future Olympic champion …’ – no pressure there then – the 25-year-old from Perthshire choked back the tears as she thanked the assembled family, friends and coaches who had helped her achieve all manner of personal goals in what has been a hugely profitable yet undeniably hectic period in her life.
Shrugging off a couple of previous near misses to land her first two global medals following a mad dash through the snow to the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in March, she then followed it up with her first major outdoor title at the European Championships in Berlin in September, ending the athletics year as the planet’s pre-eminent female 1500m runner. And all this at the same time as studying for and successfully completing her final year veterinary exams. Come to think of it, compared to all that, even the stress of trying to achieve the ultimate, fulfilling Holmes’ prophesy by bring back Olympic gold from Tokyo in 2020, doesn’t seem too bad after all.
“What hit me?” said Laura. “This year has just been so tough. It has just been so much. I knew it was going to be really hard but I had to try to keep my training at such a high level in my final year, when I was working nights and weekends.
“And just being permanently shattered. To have that home champs, my first chance to win an outdoor title at the Europeans, to pass my finals. Everyone knew it was my final year, everybody would know if I failed.
“I just thought it was so important. So it was a really big year, not just physically doing everything, but mentally as well – juggling all that pressure and expectation. I just realised I had a lot of people who helped me, and wanted to thank them. Andy [Young, who won performance coach of the year] as well, coaching me through all that and trying to organise everything.”
Muir simply isn’t the type, but she denies that the strain ever threatened to bring out any diva tendencies in her. “I think I was too tired to be crabbit,” she said. “But sometimes I would be doing reps and I would be like ‘how much have we done?’ Sometimes I would be like ‘What did you say again?’ But I guess it all worked out pretty well. It showed me that everything can be against you and you can still end up doing pretty well.”
Muir is understating things there but there is no downplaying her ambitions for Tokyo, the staging posts for which will be another home championships, the European Indoors, at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow in March. She has every intention of living up to Holmes’ prophesy.
“It is really nice to hear stuff like that, especially from someone who has been there and done it,” she said. “It is easy for someone to say ‘oh, she is going to do well’, but for someone who knows how hard it is to do it to say that I can do it is really nice.
“It is definitely not going to be easy, it is going to be very, very tough,” she added. “But I have already got my mind set on Tokyo, although there is obviously Doha next year first With it being so late in the year, there is going to be a very quick turnaround, especially with Tokyo being so early. It is going to fly in very quickly.
“Hearing her [Holmes’] story and knowing in myself, I know that I perform best when I am relaxed and just enjoy it. When I was in Rio I was cool as a cucumber. I run better when I have that mindset. I am going to go in to Tokyo really relaxed, I know there is going to be a lot of pressure but at the same time I am there to enjoy it. It’s the Olympics.”
Where she had too much on her hands last year, this year Muir might have the opposite problem. For now, only five or six weeks into her life as a full-time athlete, there has been plenty to keep her busy, as she flits from one Glasgow flat to another and catches up on various appointments. But as much as she will savour the chance to be a little more in-depth and forensic in her pre-training routine and spend more time training at altitude, she wants to keep in with voluntary vet work from time to time to stop her keeping her mind off things.”To a certain extent, it is good not to be a real geek about it. That lends itself to over analysing things, and starting to question things. I think it is really important that I do something. But I’ve got a Netflix subscription but it is a month or something since I used it. “
There was also a random meeting with Kevin Bridges, with whom she shares a Glasgow gym. “We were literally downstairs getting a coffee, and he rocks up in the queue behind us,” said Muir, who got a selfie with him. “It was really nice to meet him. I don’t know if he knew who I was initially, but I think he had worked it out by the end! “
WHO WON WHAT . . .
Technical Official of the Year: Margaret Brown.
Raymond Hutcheson Trophy for Services to Officiating: Ian McWatt
Volunteer of the Year: Stephen Wallace
The Eddie Campbell Memorial Award: Sunny McGrath
Honorary Life Membership: Mairi Levack
Impact Club of the Year: Team East Lothian
Track and Field Club of the Year: Edinburgh AC
Off Track Club of the Year: Garscube Harriers
Tom Stillie Sword: Adrian Stott
Dallas Trust Trophy: Eilish McColgan
Club Coach of the Year: Kirk and Linda Smith
Development Coach of the Year: John Lees
Performance Coach of the Year: Andy Young
U17 Athlete of the Year: Kane Elliott
U20 Athlete of the Year: Erin Wallace
Masters Athlete of the Year: Charlotte Morgan
Para Athlete of the Year: Derek Rae
FPSG Athlete of the Year: Laura Muir
Source : HeraldScotland