Countdown to Doha: Muir hopes road to recovery leads to World Championship glory
It is safe to say Laura Muir’s preparations for the World Athletics Championships could have gone better.
The gritty Scot has not had a competitive run since the London Anniversary Games in July and it remains to be seen how well she has recovered from an injured calf.
Yet, despite all that, Muir has shown over the years a tendency to improve from championships to championships.
In our continuing 'Countdown to Doha' series we analyse the task that lies ahead and her chances of glory in Qatar.
She has been incredibly close to success
While Muir has yet to win medals at World or Olympic level, in the last few championships she has gone very close in the 1500 metres discipline.
The 23-year-old was in third place going into the final lap of the 2016 Olympic final in Rio, but ran out of steam to finish seventh. A year later at the World Championships in London, Muir was in a medal position with just 30 metres to go. But America’s Jenny Simpson and South Africa’s Caster Semenya passed to leave her finishing fourth.
These near-misses can be hard to rebound from, but she has shown that she belongs at the world level through her performances in the Diamond League. Since the start of 2018, she has won three Diamond League 1500 metre races in Brussels, Stockholm and London.
How difficult is it to win after coming back from injury?
While she has been backed by the head of British Athletics, Neil Black, to make the podium in the 1500 metres in Doha, Muir’s biggest test will be how she recovers after not competing for more than 10 weeks.
Looking back over previous World Championships, it is rare for an athlete to come back from injury and win the 1500m gold. In fact it has happened just once since the first championships in 1983.
Jennifer Barringer Simpson suffered a stress reaction in her right femur, forcing her to sit out the majority of the 2010 season, but went on to win a surprise gold medal in the 2011 World Championships.
Rivals also face question marks
One positive for Muir is that some of her main rivals for the 1500 metre crown also face issues.
The world’s number one Sifan Hassan will only make the decision to compete in the 1500 metres after the 10,000 metres event and the world champion from four years ago, Genzebe Dibaba, has withdrawn.
The defending champion Faith Kipyegon came back after giving birth this year but was injured in her victory in the Stanford Diamond League meeting. Several other key performers are still to make a decision whether they will compete.
This opens the door for Muir who, prior to injury, showcased brilliant form in the early part of the season and still has one of the leading times in the world this year.