One day Laura Muir will surely possess enough global medals to match her immense talent. For now, however, she leaves these world championships with nothing more to show for her efforts than pride in an outdoor 5,000m personal best.
The 24-year-old, who has set five British records and two European records at distances ranging from 1,000m to 5,000m in the past year, simply could not handle the hot pace with the favourite Hellen Obiri and the Ethiopian Almaz Ayana when they ripped the race open shortly before halfway – or indeed, a second pack that formed which chased the bronze medal.
But Muir still showed immense grit to finish as quickly as she did before coming sixth in 14.52.07 – and afterwards said she was happy with how the race had gone.
“I was always going to let Obiri and Ayana go,” she said. “I knew they were in a different class so I wasn’t too worried about them breaking away.
“I also knew I had a lot of rounds in my legs so I had to pace myself and stay strong. I think I showed that over the last lap. To finish in the way I did makes me really happy.”
Ahead of her Obiri sprinted clear with 300m to go to win in 14.34.86, with Ayana taking bronze six seconds back. The Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan, who has made significant steps since joining Mo Farah’s coach Alberto Salazar, took bronze in 14.42.73.
Muir added: “The African girls are so strong so I am pleased with how I ran. There are lots of positives. In my heat I was a bit tired but I showed I could come back and I raced well today in the final, which is what really mattered.
“I was so close to the medals, finishing fourth and sixth in the finals. Five races in ten days is a lot so I think I can take a lot of positives. I thought I would do better in the heat than I did, but I showed how much I had learnt from my heat in this final. Going forward I believe there is a lot I can do competing at the two events.”
Meanwhile Obiri was delighted to win the gold medal. “I was telling myself to go,” she said. “I could see Ayana was not going so I thought, why not? So I said, go. I am mentally strong so I knew I was capable.
Ayana, who was so impressive in winning the 10,000m gold, was also pleased given her difficult season which meant that she only raced for the first time in London.
“It was a difficult race,” the Ethiopian said. “I’ve had many injuries this year so I am very happy with two medals. I have been injured for the whole season and haven’t been able to get over it. The pain came back after the 10,000m. But I won’t give up going for 5,000m and 10,000m. I won gold and bronze in Rio and now gold and silver, so this is a step up.”
And the bad news for Muir is that Hassan also feels that she can improve over both 1500m and 5000m.
“After the 1500m I was so disappointed and sad, and I was so scared to make another mistake like I did in the 1500m,” she said. “When that happened to me in the 1500m – every night I was waking up thinking ‘That was a nightmare.’ But it was reality.
“Believe me, this is my event,” she added. “In time I will keep up with the best, Ayana and Obiri, I just have to work at the event.”
Eilish McColgan, who produced another fine performance to finish 10th in 15.00.43, said the race had not gone as she expected. “I thought it would be fast from the start and we’d all be hanging on, but we were practically walking those first couple of laps,” the 26-year-old from Dundee said. “It’s a shock to the system when you go from walking then in to a fast pace, and I think that’s definitely something I need to get used to doing.”