Such has been the strength of men’s 1500m running in Scotland over recent seasons, Neil Gourley has been forced into the shadows by the achievements of Josh Kerr and Jake Wightman who, between them, have collected Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Games silverware.

The signs, however, are that Gourley is ready to emerge from the shade.

The 28-year-old has, for some time, shown himself to be an impressive middle-distance prospect. British champion in 2019 was a highlight in a spell that has seen him become a GB stalwart and a regular in major championship finals.

But Gourley has already reached a big milestone in 2023 – collecting his first major championship medal. A silver in the 1500m at the European Indoor Championships in March came hot on the heels of setting a British indoor record at the distance and he admits that while he has long believed he had the ability, making the podium has caused a small, but significant, shift of mindset over the past two months.

“I’ve always had plenty of belief in myself; in the long term, I’ve always thought I could reach this level,” the Glaswegian says. “But it’s all very well saying something, it means nothing until you go out there and do it. So achieving what I did in the indoors does make a big difference – it’s validating more than anything else, really. You haven’t arrived until you’ve arrived so for me, what I did this indoor season is at a different level to what I’ve done in the past. And to finally get a medal at a major championship was a big step.”

Gourley is now ready to transfer that indoor form to the outdoors. Having spent much of his pre-season at altitude at his base of choice, Flagstaff in Arizona, he will, today at the LA Grand Prix, make his first competitive appearance of the outdoor season.

He will not, however, be racing the 1500m but the 5,000m which is, he says, part of the masterplan to ensure he is ready to compete with the world’s best when he moves back down to his speciality distance.

READ MORE: Karen Bennett braced for latest push towards Olympic glory in Paris

“Where the 1500m is going now, it’s not who’s the fastest going into the last lap, it’s fast from the very start so it’s about how strong you are and how strong you can remain over three rounds at the major championships.

“So I need to have that endurance to compete over 5k with some of the best guys in the world because otherwise, I don’t stand a chance in the 1500m. I need to be aerobically strong enough to live with these fast paces.

“This first race of the season, I’m testing my strength and seeing how far I’ve come on the endurance side of things.

“Doing my first 5,000m for a long time is daunting but I’m glad I’ve had this in the calendar because it’s ensured I’m ready.”

Over the coming weeks and months, it is likely Gourley will, once again, dip under the radar. This time, it will be by choice, though. Having made some loud and proud predictions in 2022 that he was going to break the British indoor record, he failed to do so, and he realised that trying to be someone he is not was detrimental to his performance.

So this season, he will return to doing what he knows works for him.

READ MORE: Watson wants super World Cup qualifier start for Scots against Irish

“In 2022, I was in really good shape and announced I was going after the British record and I was probably ready to do it, but I had a really rough day and there and then, I thought I’m never doing that again,” he says about his prediction.

“It’s good for fans to know what athletes’ intentions are but I felt like it wasn’t me. I don’t like to shout about things before I race, I’d much rather I let my actions do the talking.

“So it’s been a change of approach this year and I did decide I was going to stay true to who I am – I don’t like being all talk, I much prefer going into things quietly because by the end of the race, everyone’s going to know what you’re made of so you don’t need to talk about it beforehand.

“I respect people who do talk and I love MMA and all the smack-talking but it’s just not me.”

Following today’s outing in LA, Gourley will head to Europe for the Diamond League circuit, before the British Championships in July, which double as the trials for the World Championship team.

With the Giffnock North athlete having already run the qualification time for World Championship selection, a top-two finish in the national championships will guarantee his place in the GB squad for the event in Budapest where he will, he hopes, prove that his European indoor medal was merely a springboard for global success.

He is well aware, however, there needs to be an improvement on his personal best of 3 minutes 32.93 seconds if he is the threaten the likes of defending world champion Wightman, as well as Jakob Ingebrigtsen for global silverware.

“I’ve not won a medal at world level yet so that’s the next goal,” he says. “The way the 1500m is being run right now, you have to expect that you’re going to have to run a minimum of 3:29 to win a medal at world level and, I’d imagine, a minimum of 3:28 to win a world championships.

“Those are some of the fastest times that anyone has ever run so I suppose if you think of it like that, it’s daunting. But how I was running indoors shows I’m a lot closer than I’ve ever been.”