Brexit shadow looms in Belgrade, Considering the victories of Laura Muir and Richard Kilty at the European Indoor Champs, by J. Stuart Weir


Oh, Stuart Weir has to bring up Brexit. Truth be told, when I heard about Brexit, I knew then that the US presideny sweepstakes was about to get truly bizarre. And, well, it did.

So here's how Stuart and I work. If we are in the same city, same stadium, he drops by, and discusses an idea for ten to thirty seconds. That is about as long as my attention span goes, and then, I am off on some social media tangent.

0022_000341.jpgLaura Muir running 1,500m heats, photo courtesy of Getty Images/European Athletics

How to appreciate Mr. Weir?

Kind of like me eating haggis in Glasgow for sixteen straight days at the Doghouse, a small, but influential tavern near the ehotels that I like to frequent (August 2014). After sixteen days of haggis, different bits each day mind you, I had a revelation. I could eat anything. Also, I told some Scottish media that I was single handedly going to get the U.S. back into the Commonwealth, because I love the Commonwealth Games. One believed me.

So, what am I saying?

Is reading Mr. Weir's stories like eathing haggis? Well, yes, in this way. Your taste buds are opened to new tastes and ideas, and you see the humor in all of life. Truth is, Stuart is a gentle spirit who has come to realize that there is humor, joy and beauty in all of our lives, including sport. He makes me smile even after I have watched CNN for fifteen minutes.

Oh, and I came up with the title.

Time for some haggis.

Brexit shadow looms in Belgrade
There is a sub-plot or two within the 34th European Indoor Athletics Championships. One of them is Brexit. With Prime Minister, Theresa May, apparently poised to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon - presumably the first 49 articles have already been triggered - to take the United Kingdom out of the European Community, Brexit is on everyone's mind. Two years ago GB gained more medals that France and Germany - and every other European country for that matter. We need to repeat that this year to be able to negotiate Brexit from a position of strength!
The quest for the 9 medals that Performance Director, Neil Black, almost said was the target continued on Day 2. The performance of the day was Laura Muir's win in the 1500 metres in a championship record time of 4:02.39, almost 3 seconds faster than her previous PR. It also broke the Kelly Holmes' longstanding British record. Laura did it with a brilliant and courageous piece of front running to win by 2 clear seconds from Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany. (Were you watching Mrs Merkel?)
A delighted, Muir said afterwards: "I was actually quite relaxed because I knew what I had to do and I knew that I was stronger than a lot of the girls - I knew that if I got out pretty early then I'd be fine. I didn't expect someone to be on my shoulder with 300m to go, but I just put the welly in* and managed to come away with the win".
(*a quaint Scottish expression which is easier to understand than to define. Unconvinced readers can try googling it.)
But Laura Muir is not just a great athlete but also a lovely person and a most approachable athlete. What is more, she is a full-time veterinary student - and don't think sports scholarship - she is normal student with all the normal course obligations.
I remember seeing her run in the Stockholm Diamond League last summer - she had just discovered the previous week that she had passed her 4th year university exams . She celebrated by breaking the Scottish mile record!
On fitting all her training and competition into a busy university course, she admitted to me:
"It has been tough. There have been a lot of times when I wished I could have been recovering but I have had to study instead. But I have had great support from my coach and Vet School as well. They have worked well together to get a programme that works for me. It involves a lot of hard work but I am fortunate to have the support around me".
What happened following the race was almost as good as the race itself. Muir was stopped from having a lap of honour by an officious official who told her there was no time for it. Muir side-stepped her and took off - if the cream of Europe's middle distance runners could not catch her - what hope for a middle-aged official?
Other athletes appreciated the moment with Eilidh Doyle, tweeting "My favourite moment from the Europeans (well joint with Andrew Pozzi winning!) Laura dodging the official to do her lap of honour!!" and Eilish McColgan: "Laura sliding past the official is the funniest thing I've seen all year! Good on her and well deserved!" Laura herself added: "For my first medal I'm not going to lose out on my lap of honour. Well, I knew she would not catch me."
Spikesmag suggests that the moment will go down in history as doing a Muir!
Richard Kilty successfully defended his 60m European crown winning in 6.54 - but not before the runners were sent to their marks and told to stand up twice and then the race lost GB's Andrew Robertson to a yet another false start.
GB finishes day 2 with three medals but all of them gold.
It was great to see Ivana Spanovic producing a World Leading jump of 7.03 - albeit in the qualifying stage - in the women's long-jump to give the home crowd a reason to cheer - and cheer they did!
Deep thoughts...
Incidentally, I was Intrigued to note that Larry Eder's spellchecker wants to call the new high jump champion, Airine Palšyte, "Airline" - well she certainly flew over the bar.
Tomorrow presents team GB with a number of medal chances with 3 athletes in the women's 3000 - including a certain Laura Muir, two in the women's long jump and the men's high jump as well as representation in the heptathlon, women's 100 women's 800 and the women's relay

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