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Ciara Mageean thrilled as she makes Irish history with stunning 800m run in Switzerland

 

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Ciara Mageean broke the two-minute barrier to win an 800m race

Ciara Mageean broke the two-minute barrier to win an 800m race

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Ciara Mageean broke the two-minute barrier to win an 800m race

Ciara Mageean has become the first Irish female athlete to run under two minutes in the 800m.

In a significant milestone for both distance running on this island and her own career, the Portaferry athlete won the 800m in 1.59.69 at a track meeting in Bern, Switzerland in her first competitive race of the year.

Her time surpassed the existing Irish record of 2.00.58 which was set in London by Rose Anne Galligan in 2013. Mageean's previous personal best for the two laps was 2.00.79 which she ran in Dublin in 2016.

"I am absolutely delighted," said Mageean on Twitter after her win which also improved her own Northern Ireland record.

"With the disappointment of everything this year, Olympics postponed and lockdown for months, my coach, my team-mates and I put our heads down and worked hard."

The twice European medallist has continued her training regime in Manchester during the months of lockdown.

The 28-year-old won 1,500m bronze at the 2016 European Championships and again three years later in the European Indoor Championships.

Her new Irish record came on the same day that the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics was supposed to be held before the Games were postponed for a year due to Covid-19.

So instead of being in Japan, Mageean has been training at altitude in the Swiss ski resort of St Moritz in recent weeks. This was her first competitive event in five months but despite the lockdown her form has stayed consistent. In the 1,500m final at the World Championships in Doha last autumn, she ran a personal best time of 4.00.15 when finishing 10th behind controversial winner Sifan Hassan.

Olympic silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan was among the first to congratulate Mageean on her breakthrough run.

In a tweet, O'Sullivan said: "Congratulations, first Irish woman sub-2mins for 800m. 2020 is a year to back yourself and just go for it."

Unfortunately for Mageean, the European Championships have also been cancelled this year along with the Olympic Games.

But she is likely to run at the Irish National Championships, where breaking her four-minute barrier for the 1,500m will be a realistic goal.

Belfast Telegraph