Ciara Mageean out to prove she’s one of the best in the field

Irish athlete in medal-winning mood ahead of Friday’s 1,500m showdown

There was a brief moment when Ciara Mageean was talking up her own medal chances after qualifying for the European Championships 1,500 metres final when we double-checked our recording devices were switched on.

Just to ensure when we later listened back it was exactly what she said.

“I believe I’m one of the best athletes in that field and I’m going to go out and prove it. You put yourself up there and if you don’t get gold, hopefully it’s silver, and if you don’t get silver hopefully it’s bronze.”

Brave and perhaps bold talk, only that’s exactly the sort of running headspace Mageean is in right now and for good reason, the 30-year-old from Portaferry building up her resilience over the years.


Friday’s showdown (7.45pm Irish time) will be her third successive European final too, this one looking perhaps the most promising of all, after Mageean cruised through her 1,500m heat on Tuesday morning, finishing second in a season best of 4:03.03, only Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui edged ahead of her down the straight.

Mageean won bronze in 2016, was fourth in Berlin four years ago, is running better than ever now, winning silver at the Commonwealth Games final in Birmingham two weeks ago. She imposed herself magnificently on the heat here.

With defending champion Britain’s Laura Muir winning the first heat as convincingly the medal hunt will likely be between these three. Muir has a best of 3:54.50 from when winning Olympic silver in Tokyo last year, Ennaoui has run 3:59.70; it won’t be as fast here, although Muir can break four minutes if required.

“You always need to mentally prepare, it’s like going to war. You don’t go in there without putting your mind in the right place, you spend all year putting your body in the right place.

“I’ve taken a close look at their races and Ennaoui ran very well and I’ve taken note of that. Muir is obviously a world-class athlete and she showed me that at Commonwealths. But I went out in that race with the aim of trying to win gold and battle for it and I’ll do the same here.”

She’s come to Munich in the “shape of my life”, determined to give Muir another run for her gold medal. In Birmingham Muir won in 4:02.75, Mageean running 4:04.14.

“Laura’s a phenomenal athlete and beat me on the day, but I feel I can get closer and run better. Nobody is unbeatable and I certainly believe that Laura is not unbeatable. When you say you’re in the shape of your life it obviously puts pressure on yourself, but ultimately all the pressure comes from me.”

In Berlin in 2018, Muir took the win in Berlin in 4:02.32, also running away on the last lap, Ennaoui second in 4:03.08, Britain’s Laura Weightman holding for third ahead of Mageean, 4:03:75 to 4:04.63. It could similarly close between the top three here.

Irish in action on Friday (all times Irish time)

Morning Results:

9.00am: Men’s 4 x 100m Heats: Israel Olatunde, Leon Reid, Joseph Ojewumi, Mark Smyth.

A disappointing return to the track for Ireland’s new fastest man Israel Olatunde as he and Mark Smyth, Colin Doyle and Joseph Ojewumi failed to finish their heat. A faulty baton exchange between Smyth and Doyle was the quartet’s undoing as their aspirations for progression fell through.

9.50am: Women’s 800m semi-finals: Louise Shanahan

Shanahan’s run of 2:01:15 was a sensational effort that took her over the line in third and into Saturday’s final. Running in lane four next to Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson, Shanahan was quick out of the blocks and took the bell in fourth. A strong kick on the back straight took her out of a tricky boxed in situation before she held off Germany’s Majtie Kolberg on the line.

10.40am: Women’s 4 x 400m Heats: Rhasidat Adeleke, Sophie Becker, Phil Healy, Sharlene Mawdsley.

Sophie Becker’s decision to not compete in the individual race to keep herself fresh came good as her strong first leg allowed Phil Healy to take the lead at the 500m mark. She did enough to keep Rhasidat Adeleke in the leading pack at the halfway mark and the Irish record holder had too much in the tank for her competitors, running a 49.49 leg to take the lead.

Sharlene Mawdsley initially stretched that lead on the back stretch but ultimately ran out of legs close to the line as the Dutch came home for the win, Ireland’s second placed finish good enough for a final berth on Saturday.


7.27pm: Men’s 800m semi-final: Mark English

The Donegal man put in a good performance to win his heat in a time of 1:47.54, good for 10th best of the 16 qualifiers for the semi-final. The Letterkenny man was boxed in a touch during the first lap of that race but eventually worked past Benjamin Robert of France just after the bell signifying the last lap.

English won bronze in this event back in 2014.

7.45pm: Women’s 1,500m final: Ciara Mageean.

Mageean took home bronze in this race four years ago in Berlin and is running even better now. She took home silver at the Commonwealth Games final in Birmingham two weeks ago and imposed herself magnificently on the heat here, finishing second in a season best of 4:03.03. Only Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui edged ahead of her down the straight.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics