‘Laura can overtake my tally but every medal is very hard-earned’ – Eilidh

Friday 28th April 2023

Photo via European Athletics Twitter

Magnificent Muir! Laura claims European title No 7 in Turkey

Eilidh Doyle fully expects that one day she may have to hand over her ‘Scotland’s most decorated (able-bodied) track and field athlete’ title to her close pal Laura Muir.

We make it that Eilidh currently holds a four medal lead after herself savouring 17 major podium moments while Laura claimed No 13 with 1500m gold at the European Indoors.

There are never any guarantees in sport, of course.

So, perhaps, instead of speculating about how the future may unfold for Laura, the focus here should be – how did two former Kinross High School pupils somehow gather in 30 (thirty) major medals in international athletics over the course of just over a dozen years?

Simply put, it is a quite marvellous reflection on talent, dedication and sustained excellence.

‘I would say it was one of Laura’s best title wins,’ said Eilidh, when asked to reflect on the Istanbul final in early March when the Scot came through from the very back of the field in a slow race to overhaul all challengers and finish emphatically with characteristic speed and grit.

‘It was not necessarily her best performance in terms of her fitness levels but for the effort displayed, the determination put in to get the win, then I thought it was right up there.

‘We have come to expect medals from Laura every time she steps on the track and that is a very difficult place to be. You are training so hard but a wee niggle can tip the balance.

‘Yet Laura has been in the sport a long time and been quite fortunate with her fitness so everyone simply expects her to win.

‘She said herself she knew she was headed for Turkey not in the best shape she can be. But she still won!

‘It is a testament to her as an athlete that she keeps on delivering gold medal performances in that context.

‘That stat about six championship finals in a row and six medals – at five championships from the Olympics in 2021 (Tokyo, Oregon, Birmingham, Munich, Istanbul) – really says it all about Laura.

‘‘She became Britain’s best performer at European Indoors and took that status from Colin Jackson and Jason Gardener, big heroes in athletics in Britain. We remember them as really formidable indoors.

‘Now Laura has surpassed the achievements of Colin and Jason and her longevity does her credit.’

Some ten years ago, Laura finished last in the 1500m final at the 2013 European Champs in Sweden. Eilidh for her part won medals at 400m and the 4x400m Relay.

‘I remember Gothenburg well because we roomed together,’ recalled Doyle.

‘It was her first European Indoors but also her first major championships with GB (on the track, after a Euro Cross in 2011). That shows you the journey she has been on because she made the 1500m final in Sweden then finished last.

‘Look at how she has matured since then and what she has gone on to achieve.

‘She competed from 2013 through to 2017 before she started making the podium – the gold double at the European Indoors in Belgrade was a breakthrough and gave her more confidence she could really contend.

‘Since then, it has been spectacular and it has come from that journey and the learning from those early years.

‘Laura has proved how far she has come. You don’t go to a first champs and expect to win a medal. You learn your craft. You negotiate rounds. You suffer pain in finals. And then the special things have happened for Laura. It has been fantastic to see.’

There were difficult times early in Laura’s career and Glasgow 2014 at Hampden was one of them (photo by Bobby Gavin) 

Eilidh fully expects, one day, to hand over a that significant ‘most decorated’ mantle to Laura . . .

‘I am making the most of being ahead of her at the moment!

‘I think it is 17-13 in my favour! I’ve maybe a year or two left if Laura can keep stacking them up.

‘I would never compare us as athletes. We are friends, we were team-mates with Scotland and with GB. I just think it is fantastic we have athletes from Scotland at that kind of level – brining medals home that we can all enjoy and celebrate.

‘If and when she does go beyond my tally, I will be very proud to pass that baton on to her.’

Eilidh always was good with the baton . . .

Tags: Eilidh Doyle, European Indoors, Istanbul, Laura Muir

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