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'Useful' pep talk from Seb Coe keeps Laura Muir on the right track for medals

At her lowest ebb, a few choice words from on high restored Laura Muir's shattered faith.

Sebastian Coe urged Laura Muir  to keep the faith after frustrating results
Sebastian Coe urged Laura Muir to keep the faith after frustrating results

A failure to convert rankings into medals at the world indoor championships, then the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships had led the likes of Steve Cram to urge the 21-year-old to undertake a thorough inquest and contemplate a change of approach. However, it was Cram's greatest rival who stepped in last week in Zurich and urged Muir to stay the course and trust in what has taken her this far.

Sebastian Coe, that storied patriarch of British athletics, took the Scot aside following her first-round European exit and offered her both consolation and wisdom. "He said there is no substitute for championships experience," said Andy Young, Muir's coach.

"Seb told her that you don't become an Olympic champion overnight. It takes time. He didn't win his first senior medal until he was 21 at the European Indoors. That's the age she'll be at the Euros next spring. He also gave her advice on dealing with [things] before the race. The day you line up and you're not nervous is the day you should give up. That's part of racing and it was useful for her to hear that from a double Olympic champion."

Having delivered a more typical showing in Stockholm on Thursday by shaking off another on-track collision to come sixth over 1500 metres, Muir drops back down to 800m in tomorrow's Diamond League meeting in Birmingham. It is in a race in which her foes will include Commonwealth champion Eunice Sum and Muir's compatriot Lynsey Sharp.

It will be fast and furious, the kind of physical battle which Muir must learn to approach head-on or be bullied aside. That is likely to mean an increased schedule in 2015 to better prepare the Scot for the world championships in Beijing.

Yet it is only by racing there that real proof of progress will be measured. "The only way she can get better is by being at these [events] and Seb was talking a lot about his bad races," Young added. "You hope it doesn't happen at a championship but you have to learn from it."

Young's planning process is well under way. For the young coach, this has been a fresh challenge, to steer Muir safely through troubled times with her spirit unbroken and her ambitions undiminished.

"She might feel disappointed at the end of the year and I understand why," he said. "But I'm looking at her running four minutes for 1500m, which is fantastic. When you look at the championships, the world indoors in Sopot was a learning experience. The Commonwealths is difficult because she was ready to take the medal and there's not a lot more you can do but sometimes you can do it right and someone else takes you out of the equation."

Meanwhile, newly-crowned European champion Eilidh Child, who sits fourth in the Diamond League standings, gets a rematch with Glasgow 2014 conqueror Kaliese Spencer. Guy Learmonth faces Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha over 600m and Laura Whittle runs the 3000m.

Double European champion Mo Farah will also face British rival Andy Vernon over two miles and the Londoner said he felt healthy and motivated. "I think I'm at the top of my game and I don't know how long I'm going to stay there," he said. "But I'm in a good place and believe over the next couple of years I will continue to do well."

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