Muir doubles up as Kilty eyes second European gold

Muir doubles up as Kilty eyes second European gold
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Britain's Laura Muir hopes to become the first woman to win the 1500m/3000m double at the European Athletics Indoor Championships since Poland’s Lidia Chojecka achieved it in Birmingham 2007. 

Laura Muir will next week aim to become only the second woman to win the 1500m and 3000m double at the European Athletics Indoor Championships.

In this record-breaking season for the 23-year-old Scot, Muir was today named for both events in Belgrade as Britain announced a 31-strong team.  

And it means Muir will run twice on the opening day of the championships on Friday week, with the 3000m first round at 12.15pm (local time) and the first round of the 1500m at 5.05pm.

The 1500m final in on the Saturday afternoon and the 3000m final on the Sunday as Muir bids to match the feats of Poland’s Lidia Chojecka, who won the 1500m in 4:05.13 and 3000m in 8:43.25 in Birmingham in 2007.

Ironically, it was in Birmingham on Saturday where Muir smashed the European 1000m record (2:31.93) in a winter she has also broken the 3000m mark (8:26.41) and she is joined at both distances by teammate Eilish McColgan.

Muir is fast becoming one of the biggest names in European athletics as she seeks her first major senior title on the back of last summer where she won the 1500m Diamond Race.

Britain finished third in the medal table in Prague two years and their two gold medallists from then are back.

Richard Kilty will aim to retain his 60m crown while Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who won the pentathlon two years ago, competes this time in just the long jump.

It has been a mixed season for Kilty, who was disqualified in the trials in Sheffield but his 6.57 from Ulvsunda last month is the joint-second fastest by a European this year along with national champion Andrew Robertson (and James Dasalou) who joins him in the squad.

Britain will have an impressive three-pronged attack in the long jump with trials champion Lorraine Ugen, who won with 6.76m, Johnson-Thompson, who was second with 6.69m, and Jazmin Sawyers, the silver medallist from last summer’s European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam, who was third in Sheffield with 6.54m and has a 2017 best of 6.71m.

Not since Sue Hearnshaw took gold in Gothenburg in 1984 has a British woman won a medal in this event and they will be part of one of the focal points of the whole championships as they meet defending champion and Serbian superstar Ivana Spanovic.

Andrew Pozzi, in the 60m hurdles, is the world No. 1 while Robbie Grabarz, the 2012 European high jump and Olympic bronze medallist, will be chasing more glory, and in the women’s 400m, 20-year-old twins Laviai and Lina Nielsen have both been selected.

British Athletics’ Performance Director Neil Black said: “I am pleased with the blend of this team. With a home World Championships in London, 2017 is an even bigger year for us than 2016, so starting it off in a positive manner is essential. I am expecting to see a number of medal winning performances in Belgrade.”

BRITISH TEAM FOR THE BELGRADE 2017 EUROPEAN ATHLETICS INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS (3-5 MARCH)

MEN: 60m: Richard Kilty, Andrew Robertson, Theo Etienne. 800m: Guy Learmonth, Kyle Langford (George Harrison). 1500m: Tom Lancashire. 3000m: Lee Emanuel, Nick Goolab. 60mH: Andrew Pozzi, David King, David Omoregie. High Jump: Robbie Grabarz, Chris Kandu, Allan Smith. Long Jump: Dan Bramble. Heptathlon: Ashley Bryant.

WOMEN: 60m: Asha Philip. 400m: Eilidh Doyle, Laviai Nielsen, Lina Nielsen. 800m: Shelayna Oskan-Clarke.1500m: Laura Muir, Eilish McColgan, Sarah McDonald. 3000m: Muir, Eilish McColgan, Steph Twell. High Jump: Morgan Lake. Long Jump: Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Lorraine Ugen, Jazmin Sawyers. Shot Put: Rachel Wallader. 4x400m: Eilidh Doyle, Laviai Nielsen, Lina Nielsen, Philippa Lowe, Mary Iheke.