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Ciara Mageean: I can compete with the best in the world and now they know I'm a threat

 

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Record breaker: Ciara Mageean is setting her sights even higher

Record breaker: Ciara Mageean is setting her sights even higher

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Record breaker: Ciara Mageean is setting her sights even higher

By any standard, it was a spectacular case of bad timing. After a stellar summer in which she broke two long-standing Irish distance records, Ciara Mageean met the press 36 hours after an indifferent performance on Sunday.

But the Portaferry woman is blessed with a self-deprecating sense of humour which enabled her to wisecrack about it. More importantly, she has already absorbed the lessons of her below-par 1,500m run in Stockholm.

"Sunday was an off day for me and it's often in hindsight you realise there are some indicators that showed I was a little off going into the race. I was on such a high off the back of the two previous performances that I didn't realise how much it had taken out of me, physically and emotionally," she said.

"Steve (Vernon, her coach) has made me a consistent athlete. I've had fantastic consistency going there. I just didn't recover as quickly as I hoped. To be honest, this year is a blessing in disguise. I'm learning lessons about myself and my trade. I'd rather make these mistakes this year.

"Nothing happens by accident in this sport. I'll continue to learn, and my plans will be tweaked. Myself and my coach will sit down and know what the next 12 months will entail. Nothing will be left to chance."

After a short break, Mageean plans to run in three more races in Ostrava, Berlin and Rome before the end of the track season.

"I really want a chance to race a good, fast 1,500m," she said.

She also plans to run in the European cross-country in Dublin in December - if it goes ahead. Last year in Lisbon, she helped the Irish women's team win a silver medal. Last month in Bern, Switzerland, Mageean made a spectacular seasonal debut when she became the first Irish woman to dip under two minutes for the 800m (1:59.69).

"It was something special. I dropped down from altitude the day before, a first for me. I knew I was in good shape, but I didn't know what to expect," she said.

She didn't celebrate at the finish because she was scared the organisers would round up the clock, causing her to miss out on the historic time.

"It was a massive moment in my athletics career. It's been on my list for years and I finally ticked it off. Now I just want to go faster, and it helps me to get into more top-class 800m races as well that in the past people would think I was too slow for."

Though she reached last year's 1,500m final at the World Championships in Doha, her performances this summer have established her as a world-class middle-distance runner.

The 28-year-old has harboured this ambition throughout her career.

"My performances up to that point didn't show I could be top five in the world even though I believed I could," she said. "The races (the 800m and 1,000m) showed me the physical proof. It sets the cat among the pigeons with some athletes. They realise Ciara is a threat, we can't take her for granted.

"It reassured me everything I believed. It's given me strength. I know I can do that again and I'll keep working to hone my athletics prowess."

Though her goal is to race rather than aim for times, she believes she can break the four-minute barrier for the 1,500m before the season ends.

"I'll have an eye on Sonia's record (O'Sullivan's record is 3:58.85). The belief is there that I can go under four," said Mageean.

Lidl Ireland ambassador Ciara Mageean celebrates the launch of 'Girls Play Too: Inspiring Stories of Irish Sportswomen', the first ever collection of stories about Ireland's most accomplished sportswomen written by RTÉ broadcaster Jacqui Hurley. The book is available exclusively in the retailer's 163 stores across the country for €12.99

Belfast Telegraph