sport news Tokyo Olympics: Laura Muir is now eyeing her first Olympic gold in a stacked ...

sport news Tokyo Olympics: Laura Muir is now eyeing her first Olympic gold in a stacked ...
sport news Tokyo Olympics: Laura Muir is now eyeing her first Olympic gold in a stacked ...

Laura Muir's mind takes her back to a time and a place where she first realised that running fast had value. She was still a kid, an animal-loving kid, with six pet rats, a rabbit, a guinea pig and a dog, as well as dreams of becoming a vet. 

And she was sitting on the back of a farmer's quad bike as they hurtled round a field in the hills above her home village of Milnathort, in Perth and Kinross, chasing lambs.

'I was fortunate,' Muir, one of Team GB's leading middle distance hopes at the Tokyo Olympics, says, 'that, living in a country village, I had friends who had dairy farms and I helped them out with lambing and they had stables and things. 

Laura Muir (left) is one of Team GB's leading middle-distance hopes at the Tokyo Olympics

Laura Muir (left) is one of Team GB's leading middle-distance hopes at the Tokyo Olympics

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'There are so many little things I remember about those days, getting covered in various stuff you probably don't want to mention.

'I helped out with lambing on the hills. They're fast little things, even though they're only a few hours old, and we had to spray them to mark them with their mothers so they didn't get lost. 

'We had a great system, me and the farmer: he drove the quad bike and at the last minute, I would jump off. I'd catch the lambs, because I was quick, and then we'd spray them, and then I would hop back on and we'd be off again. Running came in handy for that.'

There is something about Muir and her background and the fact that she followed her passion for animals to train as a vet that feeds into an image of her as an innocent in a complicated world and a public desire for her to succeed. 

She is untouched by so many of the controversies that have blighted athletics, and her own event, and so it feels as if she goes into every race with the odds stacked against her before the starting gun fires.

Scot Muir has pulled out of the 800metres to focus solely on her primary event, the 1500m

Scot Muir has pulled out of the 800metres to focus solely on her primary event, the 1500m

Now as she sits in a room at the Olympic Village in Tokyo, her targets have changed from those days when she rode pillion on a quad bike. Lambs are fast but Kenya's Faith Kipyegon, the reigning 1500m Olympic champion, is faster.

So is Holland's Sifan Hassan, the reigning world champion, who is contemplating attempting the 1500m, 5000m and 10000m and may yet not enter Muir's event. So is Ethiopia's Gudaf Tsegay.

Muir is not under any illusions about how tough just getting a medal will be. That is why she pulled out of the 800m, where friend and training partner Jemma Reekie is in brilliant form and will be hoping to challenge for a podium place, and where many are pointing to the fast-emerging Keely Hodgkinson as another medal contender.

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Muir has the highest profile of all of them. She has long been seen as the great hope of women's middle distance running in Britain but through a combination of injuries and stiff competition, she has yet to win a medal at a global outdoor competition.

At the Rio Olympics five years ago, she tried to stay with the pace of Kipyegon and world record holder Genzebe Dibaba and faded to seventh. She is determined that will not happen again.

Faith Kipyegon, the 1500m Olympic champion, is faster than the lambs Muir used to chase

Faith Kipyegon, the 1500m

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