Tokyo Olympics: How Team GB’s Laura Muir started karate and got on track for glory

Hockey, karate, rock climbing, kayaking… the list of “random” sports practiced by a young Laura Muir hardly seems out of step with so many top athletes. The very best have tried almost everything in their early years.

But tap dancing? Given Muir’s reputation for fast footwork, it probably makes sense.

Muir, who goes to Tokyo in search of a first Olympic medal, readily admits that she was something of a sporty butterfly in her youth.

Britain’s Laura Muir has admitted that she was a sporty butterfly during her childhood

‘I had a great childhood. I was involved in many different sports,” said the middle distance star.

“I had a younger brother and we were a little competitive with each other on a lot of things.

“I did tap dancing when I was very young – and after that I did karate for quite a few years, a little bit of hockey.

Hockey, karate, rock climbing, kayaking and tap dancing are some of the sports Muir has tried

Hockey, karate, rock climbing, kayaking and tap dancing are some of the sports Muir has tried

“I liked doing the summer sports programs with the schools, so I did kayaking and rock climbing and all that random stuff. I loved everything.’

Muir’s track performance is a good advertisement for getting involved in sports at a young age. And the spread of activities she participated in may have provided a clue as to how her career would progress.

The Team GB superstar has never been a one-dimensional athlete. She has maintained a balance between her sport and the real world.

Muir, a late bloomer who only started to realize her potential when she was enrolled in a veterinary studies course at the University of Glasgow, famously combined her two passions during her graduation.

Muir has never been a one-dimensional athlete and she also leads the stars of tomorrow

Muir has never been a one-dimensional athlete and she also leads the stars of tomorrow

Now fully focused on chasing a podium finish in Japan, the former Diamond League winner and European champion has managed to dedicate herself to life as a full-time athlete – without ever losing her simple joy of running.

“I was about 11 years old when I really started taking an interest in athletics and joining a local club,” Muir said, recalling those first steps on the track.

“I did it because I really liked it. I loved the sport, it kept me fit and kept my mind in a good place.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a vet and running was always a hobby. It didn’t even occur to me that I could do it professionally or make a living from it.

Team GB star Muir is thrilled to see young people interested in something that changed her life

Team GB star Muir is thrilled to see young people interested in something that changed her life

‘Within a few months of going to university, I got my first GB cap at the European Cross-Country Championships, a competition I didn’t even know existed before I went to university – then, all of a sudden, I ran in a GB vest.

“It was fast, but it showed me the potential I could have if I trained in a different way.”

Like so many British athletes, Muir can regularly hand out medals at local youth races – or even just share her time with kids who get into the sport.

At a grassroots level, she loves watching young people become interested in something that has changed her life. In addition, she can offer advice to anyone who has the potential — and desire — to spend their lives pursuing medals and records.

Muir's performance on the track is a good advertisement for getting involved in sports at a young age

Muir’s performance on the track is a good advertisement for getting involved in sports at a young age

“If someone is considering getting into the sport and hopefully making a career out of it, my message would be that it will be an awful lot of work and will take a long time,” she said. “But the reward is phenomenal and the opportunities it opens up for you are fantastic.

“Sport gave me a lot of confidence and belief in myself that I didn’t have before. I never thought I could do the things I’ve done and the experiences I’ve had.

“It can do so much for you, not only in terms of physical health, but also your mental health.

“Just give it a good chance. You will definitely have down times and you will have ups and it will be a bit of a roller coaster.

With the Tokyo Olympics almost underway, Muir's sights are on securing a podium spot

With the Tokyo Olympics almost underway, Muir’s sights are on securing a podium spot

‘But that’s sports. That’s life. But it’s so worth it.’

Muir, 28, is reaping the rewards of having invested so much at this point. Everything is focused on the Olympics.

“I’m really looking forward to Tokyo,” she said. It’s been a long time, four years is a long time to wait between the Olympics, but it’s now five!

‘Fingers crossed when it comes to the Olympics, everything is going according to plan. I would love to win a medal, that would be great.’

Parkrun ready to return on Saturday

by Ben Winstanley

Parkrun welcomes thousands of runners across England on Saturday as the popular community event returns after 16 months.

The grassroots phenomenon, which started in London in 2004, was suspended in March 2020 due to the pandemic and the date of return has been pushed back twice in the past six weeks.

Nearly 3.5 million people in England have registered for the free 5k event since it began, and before the pandemic, it took in an average of 200,000 of all skills every Saturday.

Two months ago, Lord Coe made a passionate plea just before organizers had to postpone the scheduled June 5 return because there was not enough clearance from enough landowners to allow the events to resume safely.

“Maybe we’ve taken parkrun for granted,” said the Olympic champion and president of World Athletics.

‘Peacefully and modestly, Parkrun has become a part of everyday life. But if we don’t stand behind it now, we risk losing it forever.’

After the landlords received sufficient clearance, the return date was again pushed to June 26 after the government postponed lifting the pandemic restrictions until this week.

But the organizers were delighted with the return of the 2k Sunday junior event in April and both the senior and junior events in Northern Ireland last month – and are targeting August 14 as the date for a return in Scotland and Wales .

“It was a real pleasure to see the welcome return of parkrun to the UK,” said Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams.

“Communities coming together again, to get moving together, in the great outdoors is something the country needs now more than ever.”

To find the nearest parkrun go to: parkrun.org.uk/events

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