Ulster's golden girl Ciara Mageean last night cleared up the mystery behind her disappointing display in the Irish Indoors at the Odyssey at the weekend.
That was quickly followed by the 18-year-old’s withdrawal from the Ireland squad for next month’s European Indoors in Paris.
The Portaferry girl has had a strength-sapping season — including the Commonwealth Games in India — which appeared to catch up with her at the Odyssey when she could only finish third in the 1500m.
“I want to take a step back and re-charge,” revealed City of Lisburn AC’s Mageean last night, explaining that she felt the European Indoors was not the best route to take.
“I don’t think it would be the best decision right now for my long term athletics future.
“It would be fantastic in terms of experience, but my main aim this season is the European Juniors in the summer.
“So in the long run I think it’s better that I take a step back and re-charge the batteries and be ready for the outdoor season.
“The European Juniors (in Estonia in July) is the big goal for the whole year. My main target is always the outdoor track season.
“I discussed the European Indoors with my coach Eamon Christie. It was something I had wanted to do, but sometimes you have to reassess things and work out what is best for yourself and your long term athletic career.
“It would be fantastic to go and get that experience, but we just felt it would be best to take a bit of a rest and get ready for the outdoor season.”
And Mageean agreed that her main focus is still the London 2012 Olympics.
“Definitely, without a shadow of a doubt. It’s always there. That’s my long-term goal,” she said.
“I’m keeping my eye on the Olympics, keeping my eye on the qualifying standard. Hopefully I will achieve the standard.”
And Mageean admitted that it had been a demanding campaign.
“It’s been a busy season and was a pretty late track season as well. Then it was straight into cross country and then the indoors after that.
“My legs just tied up at the Odyssey, but the other girls ran fantastic races. I’m not looking for excuses — they ran better than me.
“The girls ran brilliantly and really kicked at the end.
“My training had been going well and I felt in good shape.
“So I felt disappointed with my finish — I don’t understand why I tied up.
“It’s something I will have to look at with my coach.
“I’m going to rest now for about a week and then get back into hard training.
“It will be quite hard not going out for a run in the week ahead. I will have to be disciplined and not go for a sneaky run!” she laughed.
“But rest is as important in athletics — as it is in other sports — as going out and training.
“So you have to welcome rest — it is just as important as any other aspect of training.
“When your body needs it, your body needs it.”
The World Junior silver medallist faded to third in the 1500 metres behind Sligo's Mary Cullen.
Coach Christie explained that following discussions with both Mageean and Irish officials it was agreed it wasn’t in the interests of the athlete or the team to include her in the squad for Paris.
On Mageean’s Odyssey performance, Christie said: “Ciara is only 18 and we just put this down to a bad day at the office.
“She remains very positive and will bounce back from this.”
Derval O'Rourke (Leevale AC)
Ailis McSweeney (Leevale AC)
Mary Cullen (North Sligo AC)
Tori Pena (Finn Valley AC)
Kelly Proper (Ferrybank AC)
Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers)
Darren McBrearty (Letterkenny) 800m