British middle distance runner Laura Muir (© Getty Images)
Laura Muir, the world indoor 1500m silver medallist and European 1500m champion from Great Britain, casts her mind back more than a decade to pen a letter to her 12-year-old self.
Your life as a runner is in its infancy, and although you are no superstar athlete you are already forming a passion for your sport, which will motivate and inspire you all the way to a successful international career in future.
As a 12-year-old you are far from the quickest cross country runner in your region and at the Scottish championships you finish well down the field. Yet you never chased athletics for the success. You run for the pure love of it and to set your mind free. You enjoy the satisfaction of completing a hard session; emotions which will remain with you throughout your time in the sport.
You are interested in other sports. You enjoy karate, dance and you will also play hockey for a stint, all of which gave you a good overall fitness and conditioning. Let me warn you, however, your hockey career will be relatively brief as a rapidly flying ball to the head will force you to take evasive action and make you think twice about pursuing the sport any further!
Ever since you were five and you received your pet rabbit, Mary, you have always been interested in the animal kingdom. Even at the age of 12 you are toying a future career as a marine biologist, a zookeeper or a vet. It is great that you are already thinking of your future – and it is not something that you will regret as you will go on to complete your veterinary studies.
You love all animals and even have pet rats. You find them very intelligent creatures but maybe in future, Laura, try to keep pets which live a little longer! A rat’s lifespan is often a couple of years and as you become so attached to your pets, this can cause you to be frequently upset.
Laura, I also like the fact you are hard-working and diligent in the classroom. This hallmark will stand you in good stead in the future but you need to trust in yourself a little more.
You lack in confidence and are quite shy. You worry if you make a mistake but, please, Laura, try to be a little more confident and believe in yourself. You have all the tools to succeed.
From an athletics point of view it is also worth taking the time out to look at the bigger picture. You don’t really yet have any concept of the sport outside of Scotland. Looking at competitions such as the World U20 Championships will act as a big target and future motivation.
Overall, Laura, you are on the right track. You have good patience – as you will show throughout your seven-year period as a veterinary student and the fact that it will take until your late teens and early 20s to finally emerge as a champion athlete.
Steve Landells for the IAAF