NOT content with being a double Olympic champion, a lofty part of the honours system and a colonel in the British army, apparently Dame Kelly Holmes is now also a clairvoyant. The guest of honour at Saturday night’s FPSG annual Scottish athletics awards, the 48-year-old introduced the winner of the athlete of the year award, Laura Muir, with the words ‘Future Olympic champion’. This was no mere slip of the tongue or crowd-pleasing piece of hyperbole; having staked her claim as the No 1 1500m runner on the planet with victory in the Diamond League final in Brussels, Holmes is convinced that Muir has what it takes to bring back gold from Tokyo.

“Yes, absolutely she can,” said Holmes. “You can see the natural talent, obviously, but it’s more than that. When you’re the best in the world it’s more about your composure, your ability to understand your tactics, your awareness of others. And she just gets it right.”

As eye-catching as it was when Muir ran away from the rest of the field in Berlin to land her maiden major outdoor title at the European Championships in September, none of her major rivals were in that field. Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, who opted for the 5,000m instead, was one of four athletes with a faster 1500m time than her this year. With staging posts along the way at the European Indoors in Glasgow next March and at the World Championships in Doha in September, the Scot’s next trick is working out how to finish ahead of the rest of the elite company which she now inhabits – the likes of Genzebe Dibaba, Shelby Houlihan, Hassan and young Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay on one particular day in Tokyo in 2020. It is a bit like Andy Murray having to be in better form than Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic during Wimbledon fortnight.

“She’s already there,” said Holmes. “My only advice would be to keep doing what she’s doing and to keep learning with every race she runs – each different race, different tactics, and different awareness of yourself.

"She’s got two years’ more growth until Tokyo, she’s now not going to be doing her veterinary studies so she’s no got more chance of focusing 100 per cent on what she needs to do to improve on anything she feels she’s missed out on,” Holmes added. “Next year will be a great year for her again. You’ve got the world champs outdoors, which I always think that is a really good tester for the following year.

"But you need to know your rivals and you have to better than them. That’s about training and discipline and confidence and tactics, all of those things which come into play. If you’re prepared on all of those, you can win. If not, someone else will come along and do it. It’s not rocket science. All of those five can be close across the line but the one who wins will have the most self-belief. They’re all as good as each other. But Laura at the moment is showing she is the best.”

While Holmes was able to double up sensationally in the 800m and 1500m at the Athens Olympics, things aren’t quite so simple now. Race schedules often don’t help out athletes inclined to do this traditional double, while 800m specialists like Caster Semenya who have abnormal yet naturally-occurring levels of testosterone in their bodies make for the sternest competition.

“I personally believe Laura will be a fantastic 5000m runner eventually due to her body and her make-up,” said Holmes. “She is a very talented 800m runner too but when you’re up against the likes of Caster Semenya and other people who are very strong and powerful, it’s a different mind-set. She has doubled in the past and she has that range so she could definitely medal ant any championships. But the schedule at worlds won’t allow a double. I was very fortunate that I had a day break in between my events so I could manage it.”

Holmes had the army to keep her mind off things, competing on leave. While a bit of extra preparation time will help in her bid to stay injury free and maximise training results, Muir will try to keep her hand in with veterinary voluntary work to stop her going stir crazy as she obsessed about this Olympic dream. “The biggest challenge out of everything for Laura isn’t really about the athletics, it’s being a full-time athlete because sometimes that change in mindset is different,” said Holmes, who also spoke movingly on Saturday night about her battles with depression. “That transition is probably going to be a big test for her – just to settle into being a full-time athlete with nothing else to be worried about and think about, which a is a different ball game. You can overthink it, you can think ‘I’ve got time where I can do more’. You think about going to do the training, you’re thinking about recovering and thinking about the racing but other than that if you’ve got something else to focus on your mind is on something else and it’s actually quite a big relief. When it’s full-time, sport brings quite a lot of pressure and everyone’s going to expect even more success now that she’s full-time.”