Scot becomes first British athlete in history to win five gold medals at the European Indoor Championships
Laura Muir contemplated the 1500m/3000m double at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul but was focused on winning gold in one of those events.
The decision to race in just the 1500m, similar to the one she took at last year’s European Championships, was well and truly vindicated.
In winning her fifth gold medal at the Euro Indoors, Muir now stands alone at the top of the tree of British athletes who have competed at the championships.
Colin Jackson and Jason Gardener both have four gold medals while Verona Elder has three.
The fact that Muir’s five golds are spread over both the 1500m and 3000m – three and two respectively – highlights her durability and ability to dig deep when it matters.
That was evident once again at the Ataköy Arena.
Muir, like she has always done, hit the front and upped the pace at around 1200m, establishing a gap that looked tricky to plug.
In the last 100m however, Claudia Bobocea launched a late surge and although she closed up, the Romanian ran out of track to potentially snatch the gold medal from Muir’s grasp. The pair clocked 4:03.40 and 4:03.76 respectively. Bobocea took her career to another level in the process as she achieved a personal best and claimed a first major championships medal.
Muir did enough though and crossed the line with her traditional celebration of raising her right arm in the air.
“This championships means a lot to me and it’s where I won my first international medal,” she told AW. “I knew that doing a double was special but I wanted to get five golds because no one has done that from the British team before. I’m over the moon. I wanted to come here and win and I’m so happy.
“I was keeping a very close eye on the screen. I knew I was in front and although they were gaining I was aware I had that gap. Going over the line, I was thinking I shouldn’t try to faceplate to the ground! I knew I had enough to surge again if I needed to.
“It’s such an honour to win again and you could tell how much it meant to me. It’s so surreal [to win five gold medals]. It’s a bit of a pinch me moment! Every time it means a lot.
“To be honest we didn’t make any big goals to come here. But I’ve been to the championships before and you appreciate the races when you’re here and you get to perform for your country.”
Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui completed the podium and also recorded a personal best with 4:04.06.
It was a day of what could’ve been for both Katie Snowden and Ellie Baker however as the two other Brits in the final finished fifth and 11th respectively.
“I’m a little bit disappointed, I really feel like a medal there was up for grabs and I think had I raced how I felt at the start of the season I probably could have got one today so yeah that was frustrating,” Snowden said. “Fifth is still up there and I feel I am getting more competitive but I really need to make that next step and get up there on the podium.
“I think I am getting better at understanding how the race is going to go and positioning myself much better accordingly. But today was more like I just didn’t have the legs – it wasn’t that I made silly moves or didn’t go with it when I thought I should have I really couldn’t.”
Baker’s hopes going into the Euro Indoors were high after she made history at the UKA Indoor Championships (February 19) by breaking Zola Budd’s 1500m championship record from 1986.
“The word I would use is confused,” Baker added. “As I felt in really good shape and the last few weeks has gone well in training, I felt strong but today I had no legs and from the start I was struggling so it was confusing when you think you’re in a good place but you’re not feeling like that in a race.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board and go again. I was a bit gutted when I could feel them going away from me as I came here wanting to medal and get that for the team, but when I felt it coming away from me I knew my legs were gone and lost my stride a bit towards the end. It’s one of those things… I will come back stronger and it adds more fuel to the fire!
“I’ve taken a lot of things from this season and I feel like I’m in a good place. I have run a PB and I am in a good place but I just want to be more competitive in these championships.”
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