LAURA MUIR: I want to inspire the next generation of runners… sport for youngsters needs to be prioritised as we return to normality
- An elite athlete’s role is to tell our story so others are able to see opportunities
- Being able to inspire even one child or family to exercise makes it worthwhile
- It would be incredible to win an Olympic medal to further that ambition
I am so lucky to be able to run for a living and I’m even more thrilled that, by doing that and talking about my running, I can potentially inspire others to give sport a try.
I think that’s the role that we have to play as elite athletes, to tell our story and to continue to do what we love — so that others can see the opportunities and benefits that sport can bring at every level.
If reading this article or watching me race gets just one child or one family out to play sport today or try running, then that is a success!
Being able to inspire the next generation is a huge motivation for Laura Muir (above)
I started athletics at about 11 years old through cross country at my primary school.
I made it on to the cross country team and I competed in regional events. I was not winning the races but just absolutely loved running.
From there I joined a local athletics club that one of my friends went to and gradually built up my training.
I remember how encouraging my primary school teacher and headteacher were. I think they really wanted us to enjoy sport and did not put any pressure on us, which was lovely.
Then at the athletics club I began in the sprints group like a lot of young athletes do, before a middle-distance coach started working with the club soon after I joined.
Being encouraged as a youngster, even without winning every race, is so important
I think I had always naturally gravitated towards the longer distances so started working with that coach instead and that was me set.
Being down at the track, I always remember what seemed like a big group of people all helping one another.
Whether it was parents giving kids a lift, various coaches taking different training groups or some of the older athletes looking after the young ones, everyone was so supportive of one another.
There are so many great reasons for sport, particularly sport for youngsters, to be prioritised as we make our way out of this latest lockdown.
The physical benefits of getting outside and running around are clear for all to see — but the mental and social benefits are just as important.
As a child, a lot of times the thing that gets us into a sport, and keeps us there, is the friendships that you form.
Once it’s safe to do so, it’s important to prioritise the return of sport and the social elements that come with it, for children across the country.
Muir is hoping she can land a gold, silver or bronze at the Olympics later this year
I am already incredibly grateful for the team I have around me and the time and effort they have given me to be the best athlete I can be.
If I could win an Olympic medal that would be such a special moment for me and my team.
From family and friends, to my coach, physio, training partners and the volunteers that make the sport tick — I’m thankful every day for their support. Of course, in those big moments it’s great to take a minute and appreciate that support and to say thank you when the spotlight is on you.
But, realistically, it’s the hard days when that support is most appreciated. The weeks of injury, the tough winter sessions, the local athletics meets — that’s when I am really grateful for those who help me so much.
Laura Muir was talking to John Greechan