IT is rarely verbalised, but the shared goal is present in every single session Andy Young does with his two highest-profile charges.

Young is the coach of Beith's Jemma Reekie and Laura Muir and every time the pair step on the track, the looming prospect of the Olympic Games hangs over them.

Muir and Reekie are two of Britain’s brightest medal prospects for this summer’s Olympics and Young admits that while the duo’s potential to win medals is almost never spoken about, there is a shared appreciation of why they are pouring their heart and soul into their daily training.

“Medals are definitely in our thinking,” he says. “I’m not trying to prepare them to just qualify or just get to a final, I’m trying to prepare them to medal. It’s not something we bring up in conversation but it should be in your thoughts every day, that’s what should motivate you. Training to be a middle-distance athlete isn’t easy so every day should be about pushing yourself hard so that you can, hopefully, achieve that medal.”

It is perhaps no surprise that a medal is in Muir’s sights. For a number of years, she has been one of the fastest 1500m runners in the world; last year she ran almost two seconds faster than any of her rivals, and she has proven herself as someone to be reckoned with at the major championships.

However, it is only in the past year-or-so that Reekie, who at 22 is five years Muir’s junior, has matured into a real force at the top of her sport.

Last year may have been unusual, but Reekie still managed to establish herself as a true global force, recording the fastest indoor 800m run in the world.

Performing at the Olympic Games, however, is another level entirely and while the disruption caused by the pandemic was far from ideal, the postponement of Tokyo 2020 may just have worked in Reekie’s favour, Young believes.

“Jemma was in amazing shape last summer but I always felt the Olympics might come a year too early for her, experience-wise,” he says. “So the delay has given her another whole summer of racing and gave her that chance to gain a bit more experience. She’s moved on since 2020 and that’s probably helped her chances of being a real contender in Tokyo.

“In terms of the pressure that might be on Jemma, there’s no one who’ll put more pressure on her than herself. She wants to win a medal but I’m confident she can handle everything.”

Muir on the other hand is already a well-established medal contender but, until now, has not yet turned her talent into a global championship medal outdoors.

On her Olympic debut, in Rio four years ago, Muir led at the halfway point in the 1500m final, was in medal contention at the bell but ultimately dropped back to finish seventh.

However, Young believes Muir is far better placed now to become Scotland’s first individual Olympic track medallist for 32 years.

“The Rio final didn’t go quite as planned but that wasn’t because Laura was mentally overwhelmed or anything like that, it was just about the way the race went and the physical attributes she had at that point in time,” he says.

“Whereas she goes in now knowing that we’ve developed other attributes of her racing – if it’s a fast race, she’s great at it and if it’s a slow race, she’s now great at it too.

“Last time, they went so hard in the middle section and she probably wasn’t quite physically there yet so you have to develop that. When you get to Championships, she’s pretty calm about everything these days so she’s in a good place.”

Had Tokyo gone ahead as planned last summer, Young believes Muir would have been in good shape, but having spent the previous winter contending with an injury, her preparation was not quite as she would have liked.

However, the year’s delay has afforded her another winter training block, some of which has been spent at altitude and at warm-weather camps, and so Young is confident Muir will be an even stronger force this summer.

“Laura is probably in a better place this year,” he says. “We’ve had a run of uninterrupted training for a year now whereas we’d had a bit of a struggle with that the previous few years with injuries getting in the way. But since last January, things have been uninterrupted so training has been going well and she’s in very good shape.”

Muir and Reekie were two of only a small group of athletes who were able to have close to a normal season last year, albeit a few months later than usual due to the lockdowns across Europe.

That was, says Young, down to meticulous planning rather than luck and he will need to be just as diligent on their behalf again over the next few months to ensure they are race-ready for the Olympics in less than six months.

However, if anything, it is even more difficult to make plans this year and while Young admits an indoor race or two would be nice, his priority is ensuring the pair are firing on all cylinders by the time the outdoor season starts.

“It’s all very difficult to plan - and there’s not many flights about at the moment,” he says. “I wasn’t planning on a big indoor season for them, maybe a few races but we’ll have to see. We’ll just keep the training going and look at doing a bunch of outdoor races before the Olympics.”