Great Britain’s Laura Muir became just the second female athlete to win a 1500/3000m double at the 2017 European Indoor Championships in Belgrade and she successfully defended both titles on her home track in Glasgow in 2019.
Muir displayed not just her dominance across the two championships but also her versatility and endurance, defying two seemingly insuperable timetable clashes to achieve her tally of four gold medals. The Brit had to contest the 1500m and 3000m heats on the same day in Belgrade 2017 and the 1500m heats and 3000m final in the same evening session in Glasgow 2019.
But no sort of schedule can tire the legs of the indefatigable Muir who also broke three championship records from her four finals. After contesting two heats in the space of five hours in 2017, Muir opened her title account the following day with victory the 1500m in near gun-to-tape fashion in 4:02.39 before waiting until the last 400m of the 3000m to kick past Türkiye’s multiple European cross country champion Yasemin Can to achieve the double in 8:35.67.
Her winning times in Belgrade also replaced some very significant names in the record books. Her 4:02.39 in the 1500m improved Kelly Holmes’ British indoor record and the long-standing championship record which had been held by Romania’s Doina Melinte since 1985 and her 8:35.67 clocking in the 3000m erased a championship record set by Portugal’s venerable world, European and Olympic 10,000m champion Fernanda Ribeiro in 1996.
After running away from the field in the 1500m, Muir even got the better of an overly fastidious official who tried to prevent her from taking a victory lap. She nimbly and defiantly sidestepped the official to celebrate with a British contingent who had travelled to the Kombank Arena in the Serbian capital in vast numbers, some of whom were sporting Laura Muir masks for the occasion.
“The lady was just saying ‘we don’t have time’, but for my first medal I’m not going to lose out on my lap of honour,” remembered Muir.
With a long and arduous outdoor season in prospect, Muir was planning to defend just one of her titles in 2019 but to the delight of just about everyone - with the possible exception of the European middle distance fraternity whose gold medal chances had taken a collective hit - the veterinary graduate and resounding home favourite made the decision midway through the indoor season to defend both titles on her home track at the Emirates Arena.
After qualifying for the 1500m final at the start of the evening programme, Muir was given a stern examination by Konstanze Klosterhalfen in the 3000m final only a few hours later but the German’s valiant front running efforts didn’t quite yield the desired effect on Muir that it had on the rest of the finalists. The Brit accelerated around Klosterhalfen just before the sound of the bell, blasting the final circuit in 28.33 to retain her title and improve her championship record to 8:30.61.
Muir showed near-unprecedented closing speed in the 1500m final as well. With a day off in between the two finals, a refreshed Muir took control in the early stages and eventually put almost four seconds between herself and her nearest rival after charging the last two laps in a lightning fast 57.58. She stopped the clock at 4:05.92 to win her fourth European indoor title and seal a unique double-double.
“I’m the first person to do it and it’s really special,” said Muir. “I might celebrate by going to the chippy.”