Great Britian's Laura Muir wins 1500m gold in new European Indoor Athletics championships record time

MATT MAJENDIE
Laura Muir: Getty Images

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.

It proved a night of double gold for the British team as Richard Kilty successfully defended his European title but there was no denying Muir was the star of the night.

The Scot 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.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

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. And Kilty has been one for the indoor fireworks despite his insistence he is an outdoor runner too and a sub-10-second man in the making.

Indoors and out, he has struggled with his starts in recent times and there was a heart-stopping moment when he seemed to wobble in the blocks and a false start was called.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

By his own admission, he feared he was going to be disqualified but instead his British teammate Andrew Robertson was adjudged to have got away too quickly and ruled out of the race. At the restart, Kilty got away cleanly and never looked in danger of being caught, winning in a European lead time of 6.54 seconds.

Celebrating in a Union Jack waistcoat, he dedicated the victory to James Ellington and Nigel Levine, who face lengthy spells out after a recent motorbike crash in training, and his son, also called Richard.

A picture of his son before the final helped calm his nerves. He explained: “No matter what happens here when I go home he’s going to be smiling whatever happens. That made it feel so small.”

There was British disappointment, though, on the night for Laviai Nielsen, who just missed out on a medal with her fourth place in the 400m.

Nielsen could yet, though, leave Belgrade with a silverware, returning to the track for the 4x400m relay while Shelayna Oskana-Clarke will similarly be medal focused after winning an occasionally combative 800m semi-final.

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