Belfast Telegraph

Ciara Mageean makes history by racing into World Championship final

Final countdown: Ciara Mageean qualifies for the World Championship 1500m final in Doha last night
Final countdown: Ciara Mageean qualifies for the World Championship 1500m final in Doha last night

By Brian Hill

Ciara Mageean made history in Doha last night by becoming the first Northern Irishwoman to reach a World Championship track final.

The 27-year-old fought grimly in the home straight to finish fifth in her semi-final and secure an automatic place for tomorrow night's final.

The Portaferry runner was up against a top class field which included world 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan, defending world champion Faith Kipyegon, US record holder Shelby Houlihan and GB champion Sarah McDonald.

However Mageean was not overawed and, with McDonald, took the race out from the gun and dictated a slow pace for most of the contest.

They completed the first lap stride for stride in a slow 74 seconds, with the 800m mark reached in the same pace at two minutes 28 seconds. The pair were still in front coming into the straight for the final lap.

Mageean maintained her composure as she knew the final lap would be run at breakneck pace. So it proved, with most of the leading runners covering the final 400m in 57 seconds.

Hassan led the way in the home straight to get the verdict in a slow four minutes 14.69 seconds. Houlihan was second in 4.14.91, followed by Arafi of Morocco, with a fighting Mageean just behind Kipyegon in 4.15.49.

This is without doubt the greatest result of Mageean's career and proves that she can mix it with the best in the world.

She will relish the challenge of tomorrow's final and will be keen to prove once again that the change in training patterns and location, moving to Manchester to new coach Steve Vernon, have worked wonders.

"I am delighted with that. I didn't come here to lead in a World Championship race but that's the way it turned out. I decided if if they wanted past they would have to go round me," said Mageean.

"I knew the last lap was going to be tough but I was ready for it. I am really looking forward to the final."

This is the second fastest ever time by an Irish woman after Sonia O'Sullivan, and ranks her 17th in the world. The Monaco race also produced an Irish mile record for Mageean, who has 11 Irish national titles and is already a two-time European medallist. The former World Junior silver medallist took outdoor bronze in the championships in Amsterdam in 2016 just behind Hassan and last March also got an indoor bronze in Glasgow.

Meanwhile, Dina Asher-Smith insists she wants to become one of the best sprinters of all time after her historic 200m victory in Doha.

The 23-year-old won gold on Wednesday and set a new British record, breaking her own previous mark, in 21.88 seconds. She became just the seventh British woman to win an individual gold medal at the World Championship having claimed 100m silver on Sunday.

Asher-Smith said: "If you allow it to overwhelm you or you allow yourself to get caught up in it, that's when you start to run slow. I want to see how far I can go, I want to see if I can push myself to being one of the best athletes of all time.

"If I could that would be great, if I can't then I tried. But I have to stay grounded and humble and learn how to negotiate the things that come with running faster if you want to keep pushing boundaries."

Asher-Smith dismissed any suggestions that missing rivals made a difference.

She added: "Absolutely not. I came here knowing I was in the form to potentially medal in both and I knew it didn't matter who was on the line.

"Sometimes I feel bad for the other girls when people talk about 'oh this one dropped out' because they are high-quality athletes. The people in the final are the top eight in the world."

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