Mageean comfortably into 1,500m final & Strong NI Marathon team ready for challenge
11 August 2018
NI's top middle distance athlete Ciara Mageean made light work of her 1,500 metres heat yesterday (Friday) in the European Championships in Berlin.
The 26 year old bronze medallist from the last Europeans in Amsterdam always appeared to be running well within herself in a slow, tactical race which only came to life in the last lap which the leaders covered in under 61 secs.
This group included Ciara and event favourite Laura Muir who is the European Indoor champion and currently the fastest in Europe. These two plus Marta Pen of Portugal broke away in the last 150 metres with Muir and Mageean eyeing each other as they crossed the line as the leading qualifiers.
Muir was timed at 4 mins 9.12 secs followed by Mageean (4.09.35) and Pen (4.09.40). They will in the 12 strong field for Sunday's final.
This assured performance by Portaferry's Mageean will give her confidence a boost for Sunday's big test. After Ciara's bronze in 2016 she has struggled to maintain consistency in her racing. However, this season there have been encouraging signs that she is approaching top form.
A smiling Ciara said;
"My instructions were to qualify here rather than depend on a fastest loser spot and I have done that. I felt good although things were a bit choppy on the inside lane because of the slow pace. This gives me a lot of confidence for the final. I expect a hard race in the final led by Laura Muir who is one of the greatest. The lead up to here has been good and I have been able to deal with nerves. I have done a lot of speed work and am pleased the last lap today was fast at under 61 secs. I had a bad 2017 year but athletes aren't robots. I feel old in this young Irish team but Thomas's bronze last night was a great example to us all."
The Women's 1,500 final will broadcast this Sunday.
Marathon hopes for NI Athletes
Of major interest will be Kevin Seaward's performance following his outstanding 4th place achievement in April's Commonwealth Games marathon in Australia .
The 32 year old St Malachy's man was less than 20 secs away from a bronze medal and he will be keen to do well in Berlin. While teacher Seaward has not competed since his Gold Coast achievement he is very consistent and renowned for doing well on the big occasion.
Annadale's Paul Pollock will also be hoping to perform after his nightmarish experience in the Gold Coast when a leg injury forced him to withdraw a day before the race. He was top Irish finisher in the Rio Olympics in 32nd place and will be aiming for a good placing tomorrow and perhaps get close to his 2 hrs 15 mins marathon time from 18 months ago.
40 year old Breege Connolly of City of Derry races sparingly but has a PB of 2 hrs 37mins 29 secs . She competed in Rio and showed good form this year by winning the Edinburgh Half in a PB of just over 76 mins .
41 year old mother Gladys Ganiel ( North Belfast ) is another athlete who has been the model of consistency over the years. Her Berlin Marathon best time from last autumn of under 2 hrs 38 mins proves that in the 26 mile event age is no barrier to success.
Multi Belfast Marathon winner Laura Graham ( Mourne Runners ) has withdrawn due to an Achilles injury .