THE road from prodigy to podium is littered with broken dreams and hype exploded. For every Laura Muir and Josh Kerr, there is a Kimberley Reed and Tom Holligan, Scottish teens with seemingly limitless potential but who, through circumstance or cruel luck, found their apex behind them before even reaching their third decade.

Murray Fotheringham, sensibly, is quick to quell any hubris. “I’m just focusing on this year,” he underlines. “I like to try obviously to set myself some goals. But I keep it reasonably realistic.”

Head screwed on, even if his performances have given his reputation a twirl. All since a fortnight ago, when he was a mere 19 points short of capturing a formidable British Under-20 record in the men’s indoor heptathlon in Sheffield. The margin translated to just 1.5 seconds in the concluding 1000 metres. It still scored a tally of 5774 points that obliterated the existing Scottish best.

From multi-eventing to a mere double today, at the Scottish Indoor Championships at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena. With a spring in his step, with growing pains that morphed into injuries now behind him, he trusts. “My knee had problems in the patella tendon,” he reveals. “That seemed to fade. And then I started having problems with my Achilles. But everything seems to have started to calm down. And I've been able to get through it.”

Not once did he feel like cutting the load of honing expertise over decathlon’s ten disciplines and settling for the sedate and less strenuous life of a specialist. A cursory glance at his competitive record underlines he has long been one for the many, not the few, before he even reached his teens as a young pup at Giffnock North, his local club.

“That's down to my parents,” he deflects with a laugh. “They pushed me to try everything and not specialise straightaway and go: 'I quite like that.' They were always saying: ‘just try everything and see what sticks.’

“And I've never really thought it's ridiculous. I've always enjoyed it all. In athletics, they push you to try and try everything. It took until a few years ago when I kind of decided to take the combined events more seriously.”

Academics too. In his first year studying mechanical engineering at Strathclyde University, the timetable for his twin pursuits is complex and all-consuming. Twice a week, he is at its gym at dawn. Every other day but one, training is programmed in after class. “Saturday is my only rest day,” he informs. “And if I’m not competing, that’s when I attempt to help out with training with the club.”

Any FOMO has been supressed, even if Covid has stripped some of the wildness from a fresher’s induction to uni life. “Definitely, other people in my year can stay out partying,” he says. “But I've never really gotten into that so I don't really feel like I'm missing out on it too much. I still have my friends over and have a good time sometimes. But you don’t miss what you’ve not had, do you?”

World and European medallist Zoey Clark goes in the 200m and 60m in Glasgow while Guy Learmonth runs an invitational 600m. The older hands have significant targets for the forthcoming summer. Fotheringham’s differ, and they are stepping stones foremost. “For the World Under-20 Championships, I need 7300 points to qualify,” he notes. “Olympics is everyone’s end-goal. But I’m still young. Under-20s is what's in my mind just now. I’m not really thinking too much past that.”

Elsewhere, recently-crowned European champion Megan Keith will get a crack at Kenya’s world champion Hellen Obiri at today’s Belfast International cross-country.