Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the box: Muir the merrier for Laura and the boffins at the Beeb

By Billy Weir

You can picture the meeting in the BBC athletics department, Gabby Logan, sitting like Dr Evil, stroking a purring Colin Jackson on her lap, demanding to know what the hell they were going to do now.

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill has gone, Sir Mo Farah is about to pack up and hit the roads and the chances of finding a female long distance runner the quality of a Dame Kelly Holmes is about as likely as spotting Zola Budd coming out of Schuh with a new pair of gutties under her arm.

"What about Greg Rutherford?" suggested Andrew Cotter, as a lever was pulled and he was last seen dropping into a giant steeplechase water jump pit filled with killer Marlon Devonishes.

Paula Radcliffe's seat was empty, she'd either nipped off to the loo or to see where her Damehood was, while Steve Cram was too busy getting ripped into a bowl of Start to translate Brendan Foster's response.

Steve Backley was preoccupied polishing his javelin and Phil Jones was next for the drop as he kept talking to the person next to him, before the ever-lovely Denise Lewis and her ever-changing hair came up with an answer - Laura Muir.

Armed with that information, it was time to leave Gabby's evil underground lair and head to Belgrade for the European Indoor Championships. Not the Olympics, I know, but it's a quiet weekend and it was the best the Beeb could manage.

Sunday was the final day of action and Gabby popped up looking menacing in a black leather jacket with a giant picture of Novak Djokovic behind her.

"In these parts Novak is king, he even has his own restaurant here, a shrine to his achievements and it's safe to say he's done okay for himself," she began.

"And also doing okay for themselves are the British team, three medals so far, it's a case of game (purposeful pause) - set - (wait for it) - and match. And for Scotland's Laura Muir, it's now a case of doubles as she bids for a second gold and just like her compatriot Andy Murray, she is one super Scot."

With a 1,500m triumph already in the bag, the first few minutes of the coverage were to be a Tell Laura We Love Her special.

"One of the things that social media loved about her yesterday was not just her gutsy running and the way she's quickly becoming the nation's sweetheart, it was the insistence, quite rightly, that she should have a lap of honour," explained Gabby as we cut to Muir outpacing a badly-dressed athletics official to go and grab a Union Jack and set off on her lap, pursued by a small, angry woman called Nicola carrying a Scottish Saltire.

"She was tweeting a picture of herself from the ice bath still holding Bella the Lion," we were told, and I am reliably informed this is the mascot given to medal winners and not a euphemism.

Later we cut to a picture of the crowd with people wearing masks and were told by Gabby that this was the Laura Muir Fan Club, although on closer inspection it was probably the BBC team.

Onto the 3,000m and her second race and it was a wonder she could run another step with Cram dangling from her backside, but as expected she beat what, let's face it, was a pretty poor field, to gallop over the line.

"Paula was saying you have an aura around you now, almost like a Mo Farah-type thing, do you sense that?" panted Phil on the sidelines.

And we waited with baited breath for Team GB's new star to give us that golden sound bite we all wanted.

"I don't know," she screeched in such a high pitch that a haggis fell off his perch in Arbroath.

"I just run as fast as I can."

She needs to address this if she is to become, as the Beeb said, the new Queen of British athletics, and perhaps a celebration to rival that of the Mobot or Usain Bolt's Lightning pose.

As a trainee vet with a love of all creatures great and small, perhaps she could pretend to be in the nether regions of a pregnant cow and just as she crosses the line pull out a pretend new-born calf and Steve Cram could shout that the "Queen of British athletics delivers yet again".

Maybe not, but she plans to take a year out next year to concentrate on her studies, unless of course she is kidnapped by a mysterious band of mask-wearers and is last seen heading to an underground lair.

The good, the bad  and the ugly

THE GOOD: A rare quality moment of humour in sport as the world’s best referee, Nigel Owens, got thumped on the back of the head by a rugby ball during the game between Leinster and Scarlets. The ball had been chucked by a ballboy and instead of rolling around on the ground yelping, Owens looked around, discovered who the culprit was and promptly showed him a yellow card. Lovely stuff.

THE BAD: Not just as lovely was the WWE clash between Tyrone ‘That’ Mings and Zlatan ‘It’s going to all end in tears’ Ibrahimovic in the game between Man Utd and Bournemouth. “The one from Mings is just horrific – he deserved a smack for that one,” said Jamie Carragher, who, unlike Owens, was not one to see the funny side of being smacked on the bonce.

THE UGLY: And talking of WWE, we’ve had Billy Connolly, Ken Dodd, Lily Savage and Dame Edna Everage, but none of them got the fanfare and hoo-ha that surrounded An Evening with Conor McGregor on BT Sport, a sickening hour of sucking up to someone who loves hitting people on the head. “There’s 5,000 people in here, I’m almost humbled,” he said, before confirming he’ll fight Zlatan next.

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