LAURA MUIR, ominously, sees the finishing line in her race to journey from the trough of hip injury in the spring to lofty conquests in the summer. “I'm getting pretty close,” the Olympic silver medallist attests. A good place to be, four weeks out from the world athletics championships in Oregon where the 28-year-old senses a chance to fill one of the few voids in an already illustrious CV.

At the UK Championships in Manchester this afternoon, she will be as searingly hot a favourite as imaginable to regain her British title in the women’s 1500 metres. One step, one rehearsal closer to the trio of gargantuan opportunities that awaits over the next two months.

Global conquest in Oregon. The retention of her European crown in Munich. In between, an expected twin tilt at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Physical and mental tests which all the metrics pored over by her coach Andy Young insist are pointing in the right direction ahead of their forthcoming preparatory trip to Colorado.

“My training has been going really well,” said Muir who won her heat by over six seconds. “It just wasn't translating it into races which was frustrating. I think it was a bit of a surprise when I ran well last week but it wasn't to us. It was just nice to get it on paper. It's a very mixed bag which is quite exciting.

“My coach said beforehand we had an idea to do a bit of a time trial in the middle of the race to try and get a really good run out. We're not easing off training at all, it's about banking as much as we can and trying to use it as effectively as possible.”

By contrast, Josh Kerr, Jake Wightman and Neil Gourley must prepare to burst lungs and leave nothing unspent in the men’s 1500m climax this lunchtime. The trio progressed onward from their heats impressively. So too, however, did Jake Heyward, who finished one place behind Wightman in the Tokyo Olympic final as Kerr corralled bronze further ahead.

Four into three will not go. ““We're going to leave someone at home that's a potential world finalist, if not medallist, which is crazy, which is awesome,” Kerr, the defending champion, said. “So it means I have to bring my A-Game. And that's really fun and exciting and stressful.”

Wightman was made to work a little harder to prevail in his heat. Sound practice for another duel with Kerr, his Edinburgh club-mate. “We've got probably one of the biggest superstars in the sport in our event,” the European medallist underlined. “So to be able to get near Josh and try and challenge him, we have to be so good domestically.”

Gourley, fresh from 800 and 1500m personal bests in recent weeks, is up for the fight. “Someone who is in great shape right now is going to  miss out, that's a fact,” the Glaswegian, a world finalist in 2019, acknowledged. “But that's the realities of the sport just now. And it's the reason why the levels are getting higher and higher. So, it'll be cutthroat.”

Meanwhile Zharnel Hughes claims he has forgiven sprinting sidekick CJ Ujah for costing him an Olympic medal.

The reigning European champion is primed for a duel with in-form Reece Prescod for men’s 100 metres title after both eased through last night’s heats with Scottish number one Adam Thomas also progressing.

For Hughes, the worlds offer a shot at redemption following Ujah’s positive drugs test in Tokyo last summer that saw the British men stripped of their 4x100m relay silver. And while Richard Kilty branded Ujah “reckless” for taking a contaminated supplement, time has eased Anguilla-born Hughes’ mood.

“I haven’t spoken to him in a long time but, the last time I spoke to him, he apologised and said sorry,” he revealed. “I forgive him. Sometimes these things do happen, which is very sad in his case, but I wish him all the best in the future.”

Zoey Clark won her 400m heat in 52.97 secs with fellow Scot Nicole Yeargin the fourth-quickest in what will be a fascinating bolt for domestic supremacy. “The depth in the 400 is really strong so I need to elevate my game for the final,” Clark said. “But I am ready.”