THE maxim success breeds success is commonly trotted out but there could be few better examples of it than 1500m running in Scotland at the moment.

It is, of course, Laura Muir who is leading the way in the event having established herself as one of the top 1500m runners on the globe. In the past two years, Muir has won European Indoor gold and World Indoor silver over the distance, as well as the overall Diamond League title and a fourth place finish at last year’s World Championships, missing out on a podium spot by a mere whisker.

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But it is men’s 1500m running that has been the real story over the past few years. At the British Championships earlier this month, despite the plethora of star names in attendance, it was the men’s 1500m final that was the most hotly anticipated. And rightly so, particularly from a Scottish perspective. The 2017 final saw Scottish men fill the first four spots, with Chris O’Hare taking the title ahead of Josh Kerr.

And the 2018 Championships were equally successful for the Scots with O’Hare retaining his title, this time ahead of Jake Wightman, who had already won Commonwealth Games bronze for Scotland in Gold Coast.

Both O’Hare and Wightman’s performances guaranteed them selection for next month’s European Championships and Glaswegian Neil Gourley, who is interviewed elsewhere in Herald Sport today, is in pole position for the third spot in the British team after finishing third, before backing that run up with a third place finish at the Athletics World Cup last weekend. A good run for Gourley at this weekend’s Anniversary Games should see him join O’Hare and Wightman in Berlin.

British 1500m running was at its peak in the 1980s, when Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram fought for global titles and ensured athletics was a box office sport. The current crop may not quite have that star power just yet, but it cannot be overstated what an achievement it is for Scots to be dominating the distance as they currently are.

There is something of a common theme amongst the men’s 1500m runners in that three of the four - O’Hare, Kerr and Gourley - are all based in America, using the college system to push them onto the next level. Another common theme is the four men’s insistence that they focus purely on themselves, giving little thought to their rivals on a day-to-day basis. I’m not sure, given the intensity of competition for international vests amongst the quartet, I entirely believe this. But in fact, a bit of internal competition such as this, is exactly why 1500m running is thriving as there are few things healthier than having a compatriot to shoot for.

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All four of these men are inside the world’s top 50 which, while not quite at the level of Coe, Ovett and Cram, is a remarkable achievement for a country the size of Scotland when they are up against the might of the African nations. That they are pushing each other on is indisputable but what is perhaps even more encouraging is the knock-on effect their success is having on the next generation.

In the past few weeks, a number of new Scottish names have burst onto the international scene, almost all in the 1500m. Kane Elliot, from Falkirk, won the European under-18 title in Hungary earlier this month while Jemma Reekie, who won European under-20 gold last summer, has begun to stake her claim for senior GB selection with a second place at the British Championships as well as a bronze medal at the Athletics World Cup in her first-ever GB senior vest. And add into the mix Erin Wallace, who won Commonwealth Youth Games gold last summer and you have a quite astonishing roster of Scots who are taking 1500m running by storm.

If anyone has ever doubted what having others ahead leading the way can do for a sport, this is surely the perfect example of quite how valuable it is. Of course, there is no guarantee that all, if any of these runners, particularly the younger ones, will convert their potential into international silverware but having this kind of depth heightens the possibility considerably.

There are few sports in which Scotland enjoys such widespread success - so we should embrace this golden generation of 1500m runners while we can.