'I Won't Mind If It's A Slow Or Fast Race. I Want To See The Tricolour Flying'

By Rory Cassidy

Ciara Mageean has faced a rocky road to get to where she is at this point in the season.

Back in January after a fantastic indoor season opener running a 3000m personal best in Manchester, she tore her calf and quickly deciding to move on and focus on a busy summer of racing.

In April, Mageean faced another transition. Former European indoor champion Helen Clitheroe became her coach at Team New Balance Manchester following previous mentor Steve Vernon's appointment to a position with UK Athletics.

Mageean showed good early season form but was unable to travel back to Ireland to compete at the National Championships due to a bout of Covid at the end of June.

Having faced so many setbacks and changes some athletes would have struggled to perform but Mageean is thriving.

Just last Sunday, the Down native represented Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham producing a sensational performance to win silver in the women's 1500m. Mageean finished behind Scotland's Laura Muir but was "glad" to win a medal at what was her third appearance at the championships.

"I wanted to go out and try to take that gold," Mageean said.

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"I feel like I really put my cards out there, I really gave myself the best shot at doing that. Laura is a phenomenal athlete and beat me on the day, but I do believe that I can get closer and I can run better. I feel like I really executed that race well."

Mageean made the decision not to travel to Oregon for the World Athletics Championships last month allowing herself to focus on the prospect of winning silverware at the Commonwealths and Europeans. Herself and then coach Vernon made the call together.

"It was a tough decision and it's obviously one that didn't just happen overnight. We knew that there was going to be three major championships for a long time.

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'I sat down and discussed with Steve probably this time last year, what I would want to achieve from this summer and what I would aim for.

"We felt that I had the potential to medal at Commonwealth and European level and he asked me what's the most important thing for me and I said to bring medals home."

In what has been a fruitful career to date that has seen Mageean win medals on the European and world stage, one of things she has battled with most is nerves.

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The 30-year-old from Portaferry admits to finding them disruptive to her performances in the past but acknowledges that they can be beneficial. She has worked with Sports Psychologist Kate Kirby to try and control them.

"If you let them get on top of you they can really harm you going into a race, they can make you worry the whole time and cast doubts in your mind.

"Equally, you can use them and they can be your best friend and you can use them to get fired up for the race as you need to be.

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'If I went into the race having not felt nervous, I'd be a bit worried.

"I still find nerves very, very tough and it's probably the thing that I'll miss the least about athletics when I hang up the spikes."

Ciara Mageean targeting European medal

Mageean goes into next week's European Athletics Championships in Munich believing she is in the shape of her life. She is very clear about her goals and feels she is capable of winning another major medal for Ireland. Interestingly, she is entered for both the 800m and 1500m but is yet to decide whether she will double up.

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"I'm certainly going in here with the aim of a medal, that's my ambition and that's what I would want to come away with. I'll be disappointed if I don't.

"I won't mind if it's a slow or fast race, whatever the case may be, I want to see the tricolour flying," she added.

"I believe I'm in the best shape that I've probably ever been in."

Ciara Mageean will have the opportunity to showcase that next week when she steps out on track at the Olympic Stadium in Munich. Having won a medal at these championships back in 2016, there is a real chance that history will repeat itself.

SEE ALSO: Rhasidat Adeleke Heads Strong Irish Team At Euro Champs


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