European record-holder breaks championship best for her second gold in Belgrade, while Eilish McColgan claims bronze
Laura Muir won a historic double at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade, following her superb 1500m British record-breaking win with another title and another championship record, this time over 3000m with a time of 8:35.67.
In fact, only one athlete, male or female, has ever seriously attempted the double before. Lidia Chojecka of Poland won both events in Birmingham in 2007 but she had the easier task of three races in three days with no 3000m heats and was quite a bit slower, too!
On the third and final day of action in Belgrade, which also saw Asha Philip win gold for GB after a national 60m record (report here), Muir went to the front but at a modest pace with 73.09 at 400m before European 5000m and 10,000m champion Yasemin Can shot into the lead with a purpose. As they passed the first kilometre in 2:59.98, it was down to the two runners.
The Turk put in a fast second kilometre of 2:51.00 but the 8:33 pace for that kilometre didn’t unsettle the Scot at all.
Gradually the pace was slowing from the initial 33 and 34-second burst to 35 and on the penultimate lap, Muir changed pace and charged clear of her rival. She completed the lap in 30.89 and the race for gold was over as Can trailed by 25 metres.
Though clear, Muir didn’t ease off and her final lap was a vicious 29.51. Her final kilometre of 2:44.69 represents 8:14 pace and by the finish she was almost eight seconds clear of Can, who still set a national record with 8:43.46.
Muir’s last 400m was inside 60.5.
“I’m happy with the race but I was feeling a bit tired,” said Muir after completing her fourth race in three days. “I was thinking, ‘I hope she doesn’t ramp it up any more’ and I managed to hang in there. I knew I’d have the kick and I just went.”
The 23-year-old added: “I think before I had the training, but not the confidence. Now the confidence is there it shows as much in my performance.”
Maureen Koster charged into a clear third and looked like she might match her 2015 bronze as she went well clear but just as in 2015, she couldn’t quite maintain her surge and was run down easily on the last lap by Eilish McColgan who clocked 8:47.43 for a medal. Steph Twell made it three in five for GB with a very good 8:50.40 run.
The men’s 3000m was a more disappointing race and only notable for its 2:26 closing kilometre as Spain’s European 5000m silver medallist Adel Mechaal won with a strong last lap in 8:00.60 with Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen and Germany’s Richard Ringer taking the other medals.