Laura Muir and Josh Kerr aiming to deliver ‘Super Saturday’ for Scotland

Laura Muir and Josh Kerr aiming to deliver 'Super Saturday' for Scotland
Laura Muir competes in the 3,000 metres on Saturday - PA/Martin Rickett

The modern benchmark for British athletics will always be August 4, 2012 – aka Super Saturday – but we could plausibly witness the indoor equivalent in Glasgow between 8.15pm and 9pm this weekend.

Laura Muir, the Olympic silver medallist and European indoor champion, is up first on track over 3,000 metres before being immediately followed over that same distance by her world champion compatriot Josh Kerr. And, just as Greg Rutherford was providing field-event glory during 44 golden minutes between Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah 12 years ago, the Cornish pole vaulter Molly Caudery will be vying for a first global title at the World Indoor Athletics Championships.

On the prospect of a very Scottish Super Saturday, Muir said: “Hopefully. It’s incredible when you think back maybe 10 or 20 years ago. We didn’t really have that many Scots on the team and now they’re medalists or multiple medalists or they’re the world champion.

“I think we need to make the most of that opportunity to really build on it and not let the ball drop. If I just inspire one kid, then it’s worthwhile.”

Muir hopes that the legacy can be felt beyond just this weekend and admitted that she would probably not be running if the world championships were being staged anywhere other than what is her home track. “It’s such a huge opportunity as we’ve never had a global track championships in Scotland before,” she said.

“Starting my career 10 years ago, I didn’t think I would ever get this opportunity and where better than on a track that I train at and lots of other kids train at.”

Saturday night promises to be the highlight of a home world championships which, within the British athletics community, has reignited a now raging debate over the national selection policy.

Kerr is one of just seven British men across a squad of 24 athletes (the support team totals 16) amid a ruthless selection focus on those deemed capable of finishing in the world’s top eight, and after established names like Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Jake Wightman, Dina Asher-Smith and Zharnel Hughes opted to prioritise their training during this Olympic year.

Britain's Josh Kerr celebrates - Great Britain's Josh Kerr shocks Jakob Ingebrigtsen to claim 1500m gold at World Championships
Britain's Josh Kerr celebrates winning gold in the World Championships 1500 metre final - Reuters/Dylan Martinez

It means that an event like the men’s 800m on Friday evening did not have a single representative, even though Guy Learmonth, who is Britain’s best this season over the distance and was qualified according to the World Athletics’ rankings, was reduced to a heartbroken spectator.

“New faces, same bs – I have no love left at all for athletics – I can’t wait to be done with it,” said Learmonth, who is still targeting the Olympics Games this summer but intends now to retire from indoor athletics.

Learmonth has even suggested that Scotland, whose athletes are enjoying something of a golden era collectively, could be better off separate from a wider British system which has gone through huge upheaval in senior personnel and is in the midst of a financial crisis. Just this week, the UK Athletics president Dame Denise Lewis stepped down “temporarily” from her role following questions over a perceived conflict with her BBC punditry.

The counter argument on athlete selection, put forward in Glasgow by the British Athletics chief executive Jack Buckner, is that you need to focus on established stars like Kerr and Muir, supported by emerging athletes, in the global championships. There is also a feeling that the policy was vindicated last summer when another lean squad still returned from the world championships in Budapest with the best medal haul for 30 years.

“Selection can be challenging in all sorts of different ways,” said Buckner. “I do have sympathy. We do aim to have a fair, consistent selection policy. We will continue to monitor that. I feel this sport is on the up – you felt it last summer. Now we build into the Olympic game. We have some genuine global stars and talent.”

One of those is undoubtedly Kerr, who offered support for British Athletics’ controversial approach.

“The qualifying standards are incredibly difficult to hit,” said Kerr. “Obviously there was some backlash [but] I don’t think British Athletics are massively in the wrong there. The team that we’ve put together… will be packing a punch there and I think every single person has the ability to medal. Hopefully we can look at it now instead of, ‘Oh, there’s nobody there’ it’s, ‘Oh, everyone that’s there is going to be really competitive and thriving off the audience’. I’m here to win in front of my home crowd and I think I’m capable of it. I think we’ll be able to connect to an audience that maybe hasn’t seen us, as world-class athletes, since we were growing up here.”

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