Belfast Telegraph

Ciara looks to future after Euro final agony

By Brian Hill

A concerned Ciara Mageean dropped out of the European 1,500m final at the weekend's European Indoors Athletics Championships in Belgrade complaining about a vicious pain in her right foot.

The race was always going to be a major challenge for the European outdoors bronze medallist as she had earlier just scraped into the final.

As expected, after one lap Britain's Laura Muir wasted little time in setting a world-class pace which her rivals struggled to follow.

The field was quickly strung out with Portaferry's Mageean in sixth place.

However, it was clear that she was struggling as the gaps widened in the single file procession. She finally dropped out with less than 400m to go and struggled to leave the track.

The all-conquering Muir, who recently broke the world 1,000m record, surged across the line in a European record time of four minutes 2.39 seconds with runner-up Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany two seconds adrift.

A deeply upset Mageean, who had never failed to finish in a major Championship, said: "Something in my right foot is hurting me badly and I don't know what it is.

"I was in the game for the first few laps and can usually take the pace when it increases.

"My training has been going so well and I have no answers. This is not the normal me and I must talk to my physio."

The 24-year-old UCD student has at least the consolation of identifying the problem in advance of the World Championships in London in August.

Her injury is unconnected with her left foot fracture which kept her out of the sport for some two years.

Muir completed her dream double after claiming gold in the 3,000m, as Asha Philip claimed the 60m crown.

Sprinter Philip took the title in 7.06 seconds after Muir had stormed to victory in a Championship-record time of eight minutes 35.67 seconds.

The victories were Muir's first two major titles. Team-mate Eilish McColgan claimed third as Muir won by over eight seconds ahead of Turkey's Yasemin Can.

Meanwhile, City of Derry's Aaron Doherty and North Down's Jessica Craig were convincing winners in the Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships in Lurgan, where the usual large fields faced heavy testing conditions.

In the Men's 12km event, defending champion Doherty made it clear from the gun that he was not going to surrender his title without a fight.

He was in a leading bunch comprising team-mate Declan Reed, North's Mark McKinstry, Glaslough's Conor Duffy and Newcastle's David O'Flaherty.

On the final lap, Doherty and Duffy broke clear with McKinstry some 20m back. The City of Derry man was determined to retain his crown and forged a lead in the final mile to take victory in 39 minutes eight seconds, some five seconds ahead of McKinstry. Duffy recorded 39 minutes 23 seconds.

City of Derry took the team title with 61 points. In the Women's 6km event, North Down's Jessica Craig continued her recent good form and pressurised the opposition from the gun. Her only real challengers came from team-mates Rachel Gibson and Jodi Smith.

North Down secured all three rostrum positions with victory going to Craig in 22 minutes 48 seconds. She was followed by Gibson (22.55) and Smith (23.06).

Beechmount's Catherine Diver was fourth in 23.29 while last year's runner-up Geri Short, also of Beechmount, was fifth (23.33).

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