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Athletics: Muir's victory roar

AS a curtain-raiser to one of the biggest years in Scottish sporting history, it certainly did not disappoint.

Laura Muir celebrates victory in the 800m, having set a Scottish indoor record   Photograph: SNS
Laura Muir celebrates victory in the 800m, having set a Scottish indoor record Photograph: SNS

The Sainsbury's Glasgow International Match saw the home contingent hold their own in a world-class field as a Scotland team competed in the indoor athletics event for the first time against Great Britain and Northern Ireland, USA and a Commonwealth Select.

Laura Muir helped set the ball rolling with victory in the 800m, setting a Scottish indoor record of 2:00.94 in front of a sell-out 5000-strong crowd at the Emirates Arena.

Chris O'Hare and Guy Learmonth followed suit with wins in their respective 1500m and 600m events, Learmonth coming from behind to set a Scottish indoor record of 1:16.48.

Paralympic silver medallist Libby Clegg won the women's T11/12/13 60m in 7.97 and claiming the third Scottish indoor record of the day, while Stefanie Reid took top spot in the women's T44 long jump with 4.83m.

There was Scottish indoor records too in both the women and men's 4x400m relays. Eilidh Child, Diane Ramsay, Zoe Clark and Gemma Nicol ran 3:35.27 to claim second place while Jamie Bowie, Greg Louden, Anthony Young and David Martin posted 3:09.84 to take third.

But it was Muir's blistering run over 800m which won the award for top performance of the day as the 20-year-old veterinary student from Kinross-shire left Chanelle Price (USA), Scottish compatriot Claire Gibson, competing for the Commonwealth Select, and Marilyn Okoro (GBR) trailing.

"I knew it was probably going to go off a bit quick with the American and Marilyn," said Muir. "It was a matter of not letting them get too big of a gap and I knew my closing speed would be really good. I just didn't let them get too far away then really went for it at the finish.

"The crowd were amazing. In the home straight I didn't know if they were cheering because someone was catching me or because I was winning. It was fantastic and bodes well for the Commonwealth Games."

In the stands were Muir's parents, grandmother and other relatives and friends. Heading to join them afterwards, her pace was notably slower as a throng of young fans clamoured for autographs and pictures.

Scotland team captain Child paid tribute to Muir, one of the Sunday Herald's Six To Follow in the lead-up to Glasgow 2014, who she said helped set the tone for the stellar Scottish performances that followed. "I'm so proud. I watched Laura's race in the stand," she said. "She's a world class athlete. She's just a little girl from Kinross, but she's got no fear and just went out there."

Things went less well for Child in her opening race of the day over 400m and she could only manage fourth. The 26-year-old admitted she was disappointed not to have run faster in front of a home crowd.

"After the first race I felt I wasn't in the shape I wanted to be to go through fast and be conservative in the first lap and finish stronger," said Child. "I was a lot happier with the relay."

Learmonth contested the rarely run 600m and saw off Jeremiah Mutai (KEN), running for Commonwealth Select, and Andrew Osagie (GBR) to win in 1:16.48, scorching the Scottish record of 1:18.0 set by David Jenkins more than 40 years ago.

"I felt strong. The crowd were roaring me on in the last 50 metres and that's what brought me through," said Learmonth.

"This is a massive confidence boost for me. I know I can do it, I know I've got the talent to do it and hopefully that will just be a small taste of what's to come in Glasgow in a few months' time."

Fellow Scot O'Hare produced an aggressive run to win the men's 1500m in 3:48.62 beating James Magut (KEN), representing the Commonwealth Select, on the line with Charlie Grice (GBR) finishing third.

Visually impaired sprinter Clegg showed her pedigree with a confident win in the women's T11/12/13 60m alongside guide runner Mikail Huggins.

"The crowd were brilliant and created a great atmosphere," she said. "I was also aware of the wins by the four other Scots before I raced - bring on the Commonwealth Games."

Other stand-out Scottish performances included a third-place finish for Jamie Bowie in the men's 400m with a personal best of 46.65.

High jumper David Smith, competing for the Commonwealth Select, set a personal best of 2.24m to finish second ahead of Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz.

Elsewhere in the competition, James Dasaolu (GBR) won the men's 60m ahead of fellow Briton Dwain Chambers competing for the Commonwealth Select, while former world champion Kim Collins (St Kitts and Nevis) finally broke a run of successive second places to win the men's 150m for the Commonwealth.

There was victory for Great Britain and Northern Ireland as Holly Bleasdale and Shara Proctor won the women's pole vault and long jump respectively.

Hellen Obiri (KEN) won the women's 1500m for the Commonwealth Select.

Final standings for the day saw the Commonwealth Select top the table with 62 points, GB & NI with 59, USA on 53 and Scotland 40.

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