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Learmonth looking to stay ahead next time

The letters WL appended to Guy Learmonth's name sent the proverbial shiver down the spine of the Borderer.

To briefly have been the world leader in the season's rankings in not one, but two, distances was - in his own words - quite surreal.

"I didn't want to think about it because I knew some boys would run faster and I wanted to go quicker myself," the 22-year-old recounted. "But it was great to be the world leader; it shows my potential. But next time I run a world lead, I want it to stick there for a while longer."

Learmonth will get an opportunity to prove his worthiness for such A-list status in today's Birmingham Grand Prix when he faces those for whom such elevation iss nothing untoward. With the Great Britain team for the forthcoming world indoor championships to be selected on Monday, he can benchmark his progress in an 800 metres field that includes the reigning champion Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia and Poland's European gold medallist Adam Kszczot, as well as his domestic rivals Andrew Osagie and Mukhtar Mohammed.

Times are of the essence. The Scot must lower his personal best below 1min 47sec to be considered for Sopot. His ambitions are greater, though, with Seb Coe's UK under-23 mark of 1:46.54, set 37 years ago, having been laid down as a target by his coach George Gandy. "I know I can get the qualifying time for the worlds if I get a clean run," he said. "But I just want to run fast. I'm not hanging about. I really want to see what I'm really capable off and this is the perfect race for me to show my true form."

After finishing second in last weekend's UK Championships, Learmonth admits he took another look at his approach. Too passive, he felt. Not enough trust in his own capacity to excel. Part of the maturation process, he knows, but now he has to decide whether he is a leader or a follower. "You have to be ruthless and go in with your own race," he confirmed. "As long as you've done everything right, there's no reason to worry about anyone. I've never been frightened. It's more a confidence thing. I've taken a lot from this winter. The light bulb's switched on and I know I can compete."

Eilidh Child, the European silver medallist, will bid to bounce back to her best in the 400m while UK 800m champion Laura Muir tests herself over 1500m.

Meanwhile Chris O'Hare believes his decision to skip Birmingham and head for New York to compete in tonight's Millrose Games should not wreck his world indoor selection hopes. "I hope my summer last year has warranted selection," said the world 1500m finalist.

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