With one devastating and prolonged kick, Laura Muir erased eight years of lingering heartache and finally got her hands on a 1500m Commonwealth Games gold medal. The look on the 29-year-old’s face told you the wait, and the pain, was all worthwhile.
On a night when England’s 4x400m women were controversially disqualified for stepping out of their lane after appearing to win gold by 0.01sec over Canada on the final event of track competition, it was Muir who stole the show with another run of sublime quality and class.
“This means a lot,” Muir said, as her mind slipped back to when she was the young poster girl of the Edinburgh Games in 2014, only to be devastatingly tripped coming into the home straight when in contention and to fall away to 11th.
“I would have told my younger self: ‘You will learn from it and will come back stronger.’ It sounds cheesy but it is true. I missed the Gold Coast as well. It has been eight years without the Commonwealth and it has been bugging me.”
Now the bug has been well and truly scratched, and stamped on. This was the Scottish athlete’s second medal of these Games, to go with her 800m bronze, and she now has 11 major medals, indoor and outdoor, over her career. Paula Radcliffe, who knows a thing or two about this sport, called her a “perfect athlete”. Increasingly it is difficult to argue.
This 1500m, though, was far weaker than Muir is used to facing. The first two laps were run in a dawdling 2min 15sec, allowing her to ease towards the front before striking for glory with 500m remaining.
Only the Northern Ireland’s Ciara Mageean went with her, but it was clear from a long way out that there would be only one winner. Muir took gold in 4:02.76, with Mageean just over a second further back in silver. Australia’s Abbey Caldwell won bronze.
“Oh my God, the 1500m-800m double – there ain’t anything easy about that,” said Muir, who is now targeting more medals at the European Championships next week. “One left, two down. One to go.”
There was more medal success for Scotland in the women’s 5,000m as Eilish McColgan produced a performance of grit and substance to come second behind the world silver medalist Beatrice Chebet.
McColgan, who won gold in the 10,000m on Wednesday, once again left her heart on the track but she had no answer to the brutal sprint finish of Chebet, who toyed with her before applying the kill on the final lap.
Not that McColgan, who ran 14:42.14 to finish four seconds behind Chebet, minded. “It’s just been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions since Wednesday,” she said. “Every time I went to the dining hall, I’m just crying because it’s just amazing. I was so tired, mentally and physically but I’m so proud of myself.”
Elsewhere there was gold for the England men’s 4x100m team of Jona Efoloko, Zharnel Hughes, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Ojie Edoburun, whose time of 38.35sec saw off Trinidad & Tobago and Nigeria, despite a minor baton hiccup due to the noise from the 30,000 crowd.
A few minutes later, England’s Asha Philip, Imani-Lara Lansiquot, Bianca Williams and Daryll Neita won silver in a tougher contest, running 42.41 behind Nigeria, with Jamaica taking third. The result was special for Williams, who was joined on her lap of honor by her two-year-old son Zuri. “That is the first time he has been out on a big stage but there will be many more,” she said.
But there was a 4x400m relay heartbreak for England’s team of Victoria Ohuruogu, Jodie Williams, Ama Pipi and Jessie Knight shortly after they had crossed the line first in 3:25.83. At one point Knight, who had held a 10m lead, looked beaten, but she flung her arm forward on the line to take gold. However, the judges ruled that Williams had stepped out of her lane when getting the baton from Ohurougu.
Earlier in the day, Ohuruogu, Williams and Pipi had come second, third and fourth in the individual 400m behind the Barbados athlete Sada Williams, who ran a Games record of 49.90 earlier in the day.
Ohuruogu, the younger sister of the Olympic and world champion Christine, was delighted to win the first major medal of her career after a few years in the wilderness. “It took me quite a few years to get over the pressure of my sister and I don’t know if it’s too late but now I am coming into my own,” said the 29-year-old runner, who set a personal best of 50.72 in the 400m.
Matthew Hudson-Smith’s dreams of Commonwealth Games glory on his home track were ended by a teenager from Zambia, who stormed from fifth to first to secure a shock 400m title and then had to be carted away on a wheelchair. Coming into the home straight the 19-year-old runner Muzala Samukonga was 15m behind Hudson‑Smith. But then came one of the great late surges to secure gold in a personal best of 44.66. It left its mark, however, as he then threw up and spent more than 10 minutes on his back while he received medical attention.
Hudson-Smith, a recent world championship bronze medalist, said he had never heard of his victor after taking silver in 44.81. “You live and you learn,” he said.
There were more medals for England with Ben Pattison and Cindy Sember winning bronze in the men’s 800m and women’s 100m hurdles respectively.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism