Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie, two of Britain’s leading track and field medalists at next year’s Paris Olympics, have split from their longtime coach Andy Young.
The two Scottish middle distance runners suddenly left their warm weather training camp in South Africa last week, with big questions about their preparations for this year’s World Championships, and have now confirmed they will no longer be working with Young.
Muir, who won Olympic silver in Tokyo in the 1,500 meters and is a seven-time European champion, has been trained by Young since 2011. Reekie, who finished fourth in Tokyo in the 800 meters and two-time European Under-23 champion, is a former housemate of Muir and has been coached by Young for the past seven years.
Young had suggested earlier this week that there had been an altercation after Muir and Reekie were seen back at a training session in Loughborough, but denied it amounted to a “bust-up”.
Muir and Reekie have not commented publicly, but their search for a new coach, with just 15 months until the Paris Games, was confirmed in a statement from UK Athletics.
“UK Athletics (UKA) can confirm that Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie have made the decision to part ways with their coach Andy Young,” the statement said.
“Both athletes would like to thank Andy for his dedication and support over the years. They are now focused on making decisions around their support network and coaching setup for the future and will not be commenting further. UKA staff will continue to support the athletes during this time.
Young had suggested that Muir and Reekie had left over concerns about his well-being.
“I think you would notice that the girls were concerned about my health if you talked to them,” Young said. “I felt like I wasn’t taking care of myself, maybe I thought I was under pressure. I would say they read too much into it.”
The World Championships are the top priority this summer and Muir, who will turn 30 in May, is targeting a medal in Budapest, Zola Budd’s 38-year-old British mile record and a new personal best in the 5,000 metres.
Muir has previously praised Young’s impact on her career saying, “It was very intense and he showed me how to push myself. He knew how to get through different stages and how much he could push and motivate me.”
Young has always believed that Muir’s combination of speed and stamina—evidenced by her medal-winning potential in distances ranging from 800 meters to 5,000 meters—makes her an exceptionally rare talent. “I used to train with Paula Radcliffe when I was at Loughborough and obviously she had a huge engine but she had no speed,” he said. “Kelly Holmes had that huge twist on speed, but not the engine – Laura has both.”