'Not bad for a wee girl from Portaferry': Ciara Mageean targets medals after stunning World Championship final display in Doha
"Tenth in the World isn't bad for a wee girl from Portaferry..."
That was the immediate reaction from an ecstatic Ciara Mageean, who once again smashed her Northern Ireland record in the women's 1,500m final at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha on Saturday night.
The race will go down as one of the greatest ever women's World Championship races over the distance. Thanks to the brutal pace set by world 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan, who won in a European record of three minutes and 51.95 seconds - the fifth fastest ever time - the 12 finalists produced no fewer than four national records and a host of personal bests.
Mageean was well prepared for the race's record-setting pace after a cat and mouse semi-final where she managed to become the first ever Northern Irish woman to make a world final.
After an initial slow start, Netherlands runner Hassan blasted to the front and never relaxed the pace. The first lap was covered in 63 seconds with 800m reached in a world-class two minutes and six seconds. Double European champion Mageean tucked in at the rear and looked briefly like she might be detached.
However, on the final lap the 27-year-old multi-Irish champion rallied and with 150m left started closing on the athletes in front. She crossed the line in 10th in a time of 4.00.15 which breaks her NI record by a second and moves her ever closer to Sonia O'Sullivan's sub-four minute Irish record.
Silver went to Faith Kipyegon in a Kenyan record of 3.54.22, with bronze going to Ethiopia's Gudaf Tsegay (3.54.38). Great Britain's Laura Muir, who has recently recovered from injury, finished fifth in 3.55.76.
An overjoyed Mageean said: "When Hassan came round us all, I knew we were in for a treat. I was a bit stretched but I gave it everything I had.
"I knew I was in personal best shape and I went after every vest. I am getting ever closer towards breaking the magical four-minutes barrier.
"I had no clue in the home straight that a Northern Ireland record was on. I'm going from strength to strength. I didn't find racing in Doha a problem as I have previously competed in high humidity in India.
"I want more medals from the sport. I have been overwhelmed by the Irish support, both in the stadium and back home. I'm now taking just a few days off and it's then back to work.
"Sonia's record is getting closer. Roll on the Tokyo Olympics!"
South Belfast's Stephen Scullion battled 29 degree temperatures in the marathon which started at midnight.
He finished in 43rd position in a commendable time of two hours, 21 minutes and 31 seconds which reflected the severe conditions.
Victory went to Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa in two hours, 10 minutes and 40 seconds. Great Britain's Callum Hawkins was in the lead with 2km remaining but had to settle for fourth.
Despite the naysayers, these World Championships have been an outstanding success with world-class performances and stadium temperatures in the low 20s, due to air conditioning, while early low crowd attendances were up to 40,000 in the final days.