Ciara Mageean believes that she has a genuine Commonwealth Games medal chance in the 1500m after cruising through to tomorrow’s Final at the Alexander Stadium.
The Portaferry woman was happy with how she performed, winning her Semi-Final in a time of 4:13:52. It was a smooth, confident run from an athlete feeling positive about her form coming into Birmingham on the back of a testing 18 months.
Scottish darling Laura Muir, who won silver in the 1500m in the Tokyo Olympics and bronze at this year’s World Championships, also eased through in Mageean’s Semi-Final and is saving herself for today’s 800m Final as she goes for a Commonwealth double.
Muir may be the stand-out name in tomorrow’s 1500m Final but one-time European medallist Mageean will also be one to watch out for.
“I definitely have a medal chance and I’m taking confidence from that,” said the 30-year-old, who was 13th at the Gold Coast four years ago.
“I feel I have unfinished business in the Commonwealth Games. I was disappointed in the last Commonwealths not to do better so I want to get out there and really do Athletics NI proud because they’ve been fantastic for me and all the athletes coming up.
“The aim is to be on the podium and see our flag raised.
“I was happy with my run. The aim was to get through to the Final so the job’s done. Now I have to get back and recover for the Final on Sunday.”
Mageean has a new coach in experienced English athlete Helen Clitheroe and the relationship is working a treat.
“I feel like I’m in very good shape. I’ve had some good 800s, came back from camp in St Moritz and ran 1.59 again over the 800 so I know my speed’s there,” she said.
“I also know that I’ve put probably one of my best blocks of training in under my new coach Helen, so it’s fantastic to have such an experienced athlete in my corner. Helen has been to many a Commonwealth Games so it’s lovely to have her expertise.”
As has been the case at the vast majority of the events in Birmingham, the home nations’ competitors are receiving fantastic backing in the athletics stadium – and Mageean is loving it.
“I have to say, the crowd is phenomenal here in Birmingham, I’m taken aback. I don’t know if I’ve ever run in front of such an amazing crowd so I’m looking forward to Finals day,” she said.
“I was a wee youngster at my very first Commonwealth Games (in Delhi 2010) and then I had a rocky second Commonwealths so I feel I’m in the best place ever for this edition.”
It’s pleasing to see one of Northern Ireland’s most popular sportswomen in such an upbeat mood after a difficult period in which she suffered a torn calf muscle one week before last year’s Olympics.
The County Down runner bravely decided to compete in Japan, finishing 10th in her heat and not qualifying for the Semi-Final stage that she reached at the Rio Games in 2016.
Moreover, prior to the Olympics disappointment, there was heartbreak in January 2021 when former coach Jerry Kiernan passed away.
Mageean is looking forward now and is determined to deliver at the weekend.
“I got myself in really good shape last year, tore my calf before the Olympics, had a rocky cross-country season because I needed to sort out an injury to my knee, but all that’s behind me. I feel in great shape so I’m not dwelling on that. I’m just focusing on being strong and getting what I want out of the Final,” she says.
Earlier this week at the Alexander Stadium, Kate O’Connor produced a stunning performance to claim silver in the heptathlon. That was greeted with joy in the Team NI Athletics camp and Mageean could add to the feel-good factor tomorrow. It promises to be quite a race.
Meanwhile, Megan Marrs was a fourth place finisher in the women’s 100m hurdles heat yesterday morning, with a time of 13.37. It was a season’s best for Marrs but it was not enough to take her into the Final.
However the 25-year-old was pleased with her fastest time in nearly two years after overcoming numerous injury issues, and the City of Lisburn athlete has not hid her desire to take Mary Peters’ long-standing 1972 record in the event of 13.29 seconds.
Marrs said: “I never thought I would ever get here in one piece because of all my physical problems. This was a once in a lifetime experience and I was unusually nervous.
“As a result I hit a couple of hurdles, however I expected to do well as my training has been going particularly well over the past month. I’m certainly after Mary Peters’ Northern Ireland record in the future.”