12 August 2016

Portaferry's middle distance star Ciara Mageean faces the moment of truth when she competes in the first round of the Women's 1,500 metres in the Rio Olympics (00.30 UK time Saturday). The 24 year old goes into the most important race of her life with the comforting thought that she is in the form of her life following her bronze medal in the European Championships a month ago.

In that race in Amsterdam the Lisburn AC woman showed clear evidence that she can cope with the abrupt pace changes which are always the hallmark of a major Championship race.  After a pedestrian first 800 metres Ciara keep pace with the best in Europe to just miss out on the line for silver to World Indoor champion Sifan Hassan. Ciara’s last lap time of under 60secs could be critical in Rio where she will be disappointed if she does not reach the semi-finals.

This high expectation is not unreasonable as it follows her best ever track season culminating in NI's first ever European medal. In the past 12 months she has also set NI records over 800 and 1,500 metres plus the mile which was also an Irish record. Equally important has been an injury free season which is something of a rarity for the UCD student. 

All eyes will therefore be on Ciara to see how the former World Junior champion from 2010 will perform on the greatest sporting stage of all.

Earlier in the programme Ulster's Mark English will be hoping to survive to reach the semi-finals of the 800 metres. The 23 year old student has already enjoyed success at European level where he has an indoor silver and an outdoor bronze to his credit.  He suffered an ankle injury earlier this year but came back in eye catching form recently with a classy time of 1 min 45.36 secs in the London Diamond League meeting.  


Athlete competing days and times are below:

NI Athletes Rio Olympic Schedule (UK Time)

Day 1 Friday August 12 

00:30 (Saturday 2nd Morning) 1500m W R1 Ciara Mageean


Day 2 Saturday August 13

14:05 3000m SC W R1 Kerry O’Flaherty


Day 3 Sunday August 14

13:30 Marathon W Final Breege Connolly

01:30 (Technically Monday Morning) 1500m W SF Ciara Mageean


Day 4 Monday August 15

15:15 3000m SC W F Kerry O’Flaherty


Day 5 Tuesday August 16

02:30 (Technically Wednesday Morning) 1500m W Final Ciara Mageean


Day 10 August 21

13:30 Marathon M Final Kevin Seaward and Paul Pollock