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Ciara Mageean opts out of the World Athletics Championships to focus on Rio Games


Ciara Mageean

Ciara Mageean

?INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ciara Mageean

Newcastle steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty has been named in the Ireland team for this month’s World Athletics Championships.

Irish 800 metres champion Ciara Mageean, however, won’t be making the trip to Beijing after asking not to be considered for the team.

She could have been selected under IAAF rules which allow entry to the top 50 ranked competitors. Instead, the Portaferry girl will work towards qualification for next year’s Rio Olympics, after missing out on the London 2012 Games.

Despite an injury-plagued season, Mageean gave an impressive performance in the Irish Championships last weekend as she left the opposition trailing in her wake, recording a personal best time of 2.02.98 to win the 800 metres — beating her previous best, which was set back in 2009.

Afterwards, however, Mageean was evasive over her intentions to compete at 800 metres or 1,500 metres in Beijing.

She was ranked 42 out of 45 in the quota for the 1,500 metres following her second fastest time ever of 4.08.32, set in Belgium just over three weeks ago.

After discussions with her coach Jerry Kiernan, the 23-year-old took the decision to opt out of the Worlds.

“For me, staying injury free and staying strong going into the winter season and progressing towards Rio is my goal,” said Mageean. “I’ve been lining up towards Rio for a long time and that’s really where I want to be. This is the start of the 12 months towards Rio.

“I got the B standard for London and didn’t get to go. That was a big blow for me. Rio has been my goal since not getting selected for London.”

O’Flaherty shattered her own Northern Ireland steeplechase record last month by some nine seconds, so the 33-year-old’s selection was almost inevitable. Her rival Michelle Finn of Leevale has also qualified for Beijing.

North Down’s high hurdles star Ben Reynolds is hoping that he will be added to the Irish team later this week as he falls within the quota for his event .

IRELAND TEAM: Thomas Barr (Ferrybank) 400 metres hurdles, Mark English (UCD) 800 metres, Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle) Steeplechase, Michelle Finn (Leevale) Steeplechase, Tori Pena (Finn Valley) Pole Vault, Alex Wright (Leevale) 20k and 50k walks, Rob Hefferon (Togher) 50k walk, Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny) 50k walk, Barr, English, Brian Gregan, Brian Murphy, Richard Morrisey, Tim Crowe, 4x400 Relay.

Belfast Telegraph