Ciara on the move as she bids to boost career prospects
Ireland's top middle distance athlete Ciara Mageean has announced that she will be leaving current coach Gerry Kiernan to join Team New Balance in Manchester which operates under former GB international Steve Vernon.
This move is not a complete surprise as the 25-year-old Portaferry runner's performances this year have been marked by a series of highs and lows. The latter unfortunately coincided with a failure to finish in the European Indoors 1,500 metres in Belgrade. More disappointingly she did not get out of the first round of the World Outdoor Championships in London in August .
London was a particular blow as only a month previously at the same Olympic venue Ciara had set yet another Northern Ireland record in the mile on her way to a very fast 1,500 metres time.
This inconsistency had also been illustrated the previous year when she started her season on a high with a bronze in the European Championships in Amsterdam. This was the first ever European medal by a Northern Ireland athlete.
However, she then struggled in her Rio Olympics semi-final only to set another NI 1,500 metres record of 4 mins 1.46 secs a short time later in Paris which ranked her 12th in the world in 2016.
In the past Ciara had suffered a career-threatening ankle injury in 2012 and 2013 before joining former Olympic marathon athlete Kiernan. Commenting on her move, physiotherapist Ciara said: "Jerry took me on from an ankle injury and helped me on my journey to recovery.
"He gave me the confidence to know I'm as good as any athlete in the world. I am confident Manchester is the right place for me at this point in my career.
"The change of environment and having a professional team around me day to day is what I need to make the sort of progress that I want.
"I want to be more consistent and deliver the results I know I am capable of, especially when I put on an Irish vest."
Ciara, whose immediate aim is next year's Commonwealth Games on the Australian Gold Coast, will certainly receive plenty of expert assistance under the wing of Steve Vernon's team, based with the Stockport Harriers club.
Vernon's successful stable of athletes includes Great Britain 'B' middle and long distance internationals Johnny Mellor, Ben Connor and Lauren Howarth.