Laura Muir golds herald 'era of unprecedented success' for Scotland

Laura Muir and Eilish McColgan with their European Indoor medals
Laura Muir was first and Eilish McColgan third in the 3,000m on Sunday

Unparalleled levels of success for his country's competitors have been predicted by Scottish Athletics' performance director Roger Harkins.

Laura Muir won two gold medals, Eilish McColgan a bronze and Eilidh Doyle a relay silver at the European Indoor Championships over the weekend.

"People hark back to the halcyon days of the 1970s and 1980s," Harkins said.

"I genuinely believe Scottish athletics is moving into an era where it will be unprecedented."

And he added: "If it continues along this vein then it will definitely be the best it has ever been.

"There are so many talented athletes about at the moment - Eilish, Laura, Steph Twell, Andy Butchart, Callum Hawkins, Lynsey Sharp to name but a few.

"We've got some good throwers as well and we've got some good kids coming through in the sprints and endurance events."

Muir won the 1500m and 3,000m, with McColgan finishing third in the latter, while Doyle was part of Britain's 4x400m relay squad.

Harkins believes such successes are not only inspiring their colleagues but "a new generation of kids coming through".

Laura Muir wins the 1500m in Belgrade
Laura Muir won the 1500m in Belgrade on Saturday

"If you go back 10 years, there would only be a couple of Scottish athletes in the GB team and those athletes have inspired a generation of the next athletes," he told BBC Scotland.

"It was unprecedented that we have 15 athletes at the Olympics in Rio last year and six athletes at the Paralympics."

However, Harkins did not anticipate increased government funding as a result.

"I find that hard to imagine in the current economic climate, particularly when they are talking about cuts across the board," he said.

"We can only hope that, if athletics is doing well, our money will not be cut."

Meanwhile, Harkins believes Muir, who plans to double up again at this year's World Championships, could go on to become one of Scotland's greatest-ever athletes.

"She certainly has the ability and the characteristics for that," he said while praising the hard work put in by the 25-year-old and her coach.

"She's had this potential for a number of years, but to deliver the performances that she did and the manner in which she did them over the weekend is absolutely amazing.

"It is great credit to the work Andy Young has been doing with her."

Former European medallist Lee McConnell thinks that Muir is already among Scotland's all-time best.

"She's a fantastic athlete," she said. "The future's really bright for Laura.

"I think the biggest thing for her is that she needs to keep training the way she's training and try her best not to pick up any injuries.

"She didn't come back with a medal from Rio, but she was still outstanding on the athletics circuit with such quick times over 1500m.

"True Laura style, she went out in Rio to win the gold medal and I think, if she had decided she was happy with silver or bronze, she would have probably come back with a silver or bronze.

"But she went for gold and, at that stage, it didn't pay off.

"Fair play to her - she feels she has a long future and there are other medals she can go for."

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