Mageean sets new junior bests in New York debut


ATHLETICS NEWS:CIARA MAGEEAN had to be content with seventh place in her professional debut in New York on Saturday, yet still broke two national records in the process.

Running the elite women’s mile at the New Balance Games – the same sponsors that recently signed up the Down youngster – Mageean finished in 4:38.81, and was also clocked at 4:17.0 at the 1,500-metre mark.

Both times improved the Irish junior women’s records: the previous mile best had stood to Cork’s Anita Philpott since 1988, the then young rival of Sonia O’Sullivan, who ran 4:41.76 in Boston; and Mageean herself had held the 1,500 metres junior best of 4:20.88, set when winning the Irish senior indoor title in Belfast two years ago.

So, while a little disappointed with her finishing position, Mageean took plenty of satisfaction from her time, especially given it was also her first race of the season.

Mageean has turned down an offer to compete in next weekend’s Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden to focus instead on the Irish Indoor Championships in three weeks, with a view of qualifying for the European Indoor Championships in Paris in March, for which the 1,500-metre qualifying standard is 4:13.0.

Victory on the night went to Jen Simpson, the American steeplechase record holder, who clocked 4:28.60.

Still two months shy of her 19th birthday, Mageean was by far the youngest in the 12-woman field, and the 4:13.0 standard for the European Indoors certainly looks attainable.

Back at home, Marian Heffernan of Togher AC won a 200-400 metres double at Saturday’s AAI Games in Nenagh, holding off Steffi Creaner of Celtic DCH in the 200 metres, and winning the 400 metres in 56.51.

Joan Healy of Bandon, winner of the junior title last week, beat senior rival Niamh Whelan of Ferrybank to win the 60 metres in in 7.71 seconds.

And once more Kate Veale showed her class when winning the 3,000 metres walk in a time of 13:11.86, just one second outside her national record.

Up north in Antrim, Mike Kigen of Kenya was the classy winner of Saturday’s IAAF Cross Country International at Greenmount, the 25-year-old athlete sprinting clear in the closing stages of the 9km race.

Kigen won by six seconds over fellow countryman and world junior 10,000 metres champion Titus Mbishei.

The Irish challenge was sadly limited, although Shane Quinn from Waterford won the junior men’s event from Scotland’s Lachlan Oates.

Charlotte Purdue, the recent winner of the European junior title, had a handsome margin to spare over her opponents when winning the women’s event.