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Mageean in great form for European medal tilt



High hopes: Ciara Mageean aims to place well in Glasgow

High hopes: Ciara Mageean aims to place well in Glasgow

High hopes: Ciara Mageean aims to place well in Glasgow

Portaferry's Ciara Mageean is preparing for a demanding weekend in the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Glasgow - starting today - where she has been tipped as a potential medallist in a high powered 1,500 metres.

The 26-year-old UCD athlete has been enjoying her best indoor season ever which has included breaking her own Irish records over the mile and 1,500 metres. In these races she has shown true maturity and judgement in dealing with some of the best athletes in the world.

Ciara takes the start line in her 1,500 metres heat tomorrow evening with the knowledge that she is probably at her fittest ever for indoor competition. She will be confident about at least making Sunday's final, particularly as her Irish record time of 4 mins 6.76 secs ranks her fifth fastest European this season.

However, the path to medal success will not be easy as the event features some of the world's best, including local Scottish heroine and current double European champion Laura Muir. Laura - who recently broke the British mile record - is the fastest in the field at under 4 mins 2 secs and is firm favourite to retain her title.

Ciara will need to be at her best to feature in the other medals as she faces European Outdoors silver medallist Sofia Ennaoui of Poland. In that race in Berlin last summer the Irish champion was an agonising fourth.

The event will also have Germany's Konstanze Klosterhalfen, who took silver in this event two years ago in Belgrade. Ciara has previously beaten her, so everything will depend on form and the all important indoor tactics.

Tomorrow's men's 800 metres first round will include Annadale's Conall Kirk, who ran a recent Indoors PB of 1.48.95. This is the 23-year-old's senior debut and, as such, he will be hard pressed to qualify for the semis, as will Irish team mate Zak Curran.

It will, however, be a different matter for UCD's Mark English who has already achieved two European medals over the distance.

The 24-year-old medical student from Letterkenny has been plagued with injury since his Indoors silver medal three years ago in Prague, but has now returned to something like his old form. A recent time of 1.46.92 in Athlone is his fastest indoors in five years.

18-year-old high jumper Sommer Lecky is also making her senior debut. The World junior silver medallist recently equalled her Indoors PB of 1.86 metres when taking the Irish title.

Unfortunately, her 26-strong event is stacked with world-class athletes, including current World champion Mariya Lasitskene who has jumped 2.04 metres this year. The Finn Valley girl will have to at least equal her outdoor PB of 1.90 metres to progress to the final.

The Irish team will have high hopes of success in both the male and female 400 metres.

Phil Healy is ranked third fastest European with 52.31secs, while Thomas Barr was the star of last year's outdoors Euros when he earned an impressive bronze medal in the 400 metres hurdles.

• JEMMA Reekie says nerves will not be an issue as she prepares to line up alongside Europe's elite - because she takes on the best in the world on a daily basis.

The 20-year-old Scot's training partner is Laura Muir, the Diamond League champion who will be looking to take another step towards superstardom this weekend by claiming a 1,500 metre and 3,000 metre golden double at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow.

Reekie's targets may be more modest, with the British indoor 1500m champion's primary aim just to qualify out of her heat on Friday night, but the Beith athlete will not let stage-fright put her off her step as she runs out in front of a sold-out Emirates Arena.

Belfast Telegraph