A STRONG performance at the world championships will put Laura Muir firmly in the running for Olympic medal contention next year believes Dame Kelly Holmes.
The Scot has been out of action since July when she suffered a calf injury but is among the favourites to claim a medal in the 1500m next week.
Muir only missed out on bronze two years ago in London by seven hundredths of a second but took the European title last year in Berlin and silver in the world indoors.
Holmes, a double Olympic gold medallist in Athens in 2004, believes Muir can put down a marker for Tokyo by making the podium in Doha.  
“If Laura does well at the world championships it will raise her confidence that she can beat the best in the world,” said one of Britain’s finest middle-distance runners.   
“If she goes to Doha and wins then she can use that as a platform to succeed in Tokyo as long as she realises it’s just a catalyst for the next thing. It doesn’t automatically make you the best. It will be a test of her standard and then it’s about maintaining that.
“It would be brilliant for Scotland to have an Olympic champion. And I truly believe she has the capability to achieve that. I would never doubt that. Once you have the elevation of confidence you start to feel almost unbeatable.”
That pressure of carrying a nation’s hopes on her shoulders would be a burden for some but Holmes believes the Kinross-shire athlete will simply take it in her stride.
“I’ve met Laura a couple of times and she doesn’t seem like someone who carries the weight of expectation on her shoulders,” added Holmes.
“She seems very level-headed and a smart girl. She has that ability to focus on what she wants to achieve and not try to do what other people want for her. That’s a mindset you need to have.
“She’s brilliant, a really good athlete. And she’s clearly worked very hard. What I’m seeing is that she’s starting to race better. It’s one thing running fast - and she clearly has that ability - but you can see having reached world level she now knows what’s expected of her in training.
“There are other athletes as good at that level but she’s got the ability to win whatever she wants.”
Holmes came close to claiming an Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000 only to falter down the finishing line and end up with bronze. But she believes still having that hunger to succeed was what drove her on to win gold in the 800m and 1500m four years on.
Muir, similarly, is yet to taste success at world and Olympic level and Holmes believes that desire will spur her on.
“If I hadn’t got scared when I was in front with 30 metres to go in the final at the Sydney Olympics then I would never have won two gold medals in Athens four year later,” she revealed.
“It was that determination and will to win that kept me going. And it will be the same for Laura. She will want to prove a point.”