Ciara Mageean star of the show at Athletics Ireland awards 2019
27-year-old named Athlete of the Year, Sonia O’Sullivan inducted into the Hall of Fame
Ciara Mageean was named Athlete of the Year at the 2019 Athletics Ireland awards. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Nothing counts more than medals and records when it comes to athletics success, and after scoring on both during 2019 Ciara Mageean was always going to be the standout Irish athlete of the year.
It’s now earned Mageean two bonus prizes - the outright winner of the Athlete of the Year at the 2019 Irish Life/Athletics Ireland awards, and also the Track and Field Athlete of the Year award, presented in Dublin on Thursday afternoon alongside an array of other worthy recipients.
Fittingly too Mageean was preceded onto the stage to collect that outright award by Sonia O’Sullivan, who on her 50th birthday was inducted into the Athletics Ireland Hall of Fame: no Irish athlete ever has or likely ever will win more medals or set more records than O’Sullivan, although Mageean is closing in a few.
After winning a bronze medal over 1,500m at the European Indoors in Glasgow back in March, and setting two Irish indoor records, Mageean produced a series of excellent runs outdoors, culminating at the World Championships in Doha, finishing in early October.
In qualifying for the 1,500m final Mageean closed another little gap on O’Sullivan, who in 1997 was the last Irish woman to make the final in that event. Mageean has found herself in the most competitive women’s 1,500m in history, the Dutch winner Sifan Hassan running 3:51.95 to win her second gold medal - a new World Championship record and the sixth fastest women’s 1,500m time in history. Mageean still produced the run of her life to finish in 10th place, her new personal best 4:00.15 in 10th place just a lick away from the magical four-minute barrier, and also O’Sullivan’s Irish record of 3:58.85 set 25 years ago.
The 27-year-old from Portaferry is not done yet, and on Sunday week will be part of the senior women’s team at the European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon, and with her Tokyo Olympic qualifying time also in the bag, it’s already about looking towards next year. “It was quite unusual finishing so late in Doha, with just nine months to the Olympics,” she said. “That’s when you realise that flies very quickly, you have to knuckle down. And it’s already in that Olympic build up for me.”
O’Sullivan’s long-standing record is part of her 2020 goal: “Sonia’s record is 3:58, and if Sonia can run 3:58 I want to get in the realm of that. I can dream of running a 3:55, but I want to be as far up there as I can. I’d be extremely disappointed if I entered an Olympics and ran a 3:56 and didn’t medal or ran a 3:54 and came fourth - I’d be absolutely devastated.”
O’Sullivan’s induction into the Hall of Fame was unquestionable: during a career which spanned three decades, she won 14 major championship medals, including three European gold medals, two silver, one World Championship gold, one silver, two World Cross Country gold, and the Olympic silver medal won over 5,000m in Sydney in 2000. She also became the fourth Olympian and graduate of Villanova University to be inducted into the Athletics Ireland Hall of Fame, after Ronnie Delany, Eamonn Coghlan and the late Frank Murphy
Among the other award winners were Kate O’Connor, named Under-20 Athlete of year after winning silver in the heptathlon at the European Athletics U-20 Championships. Endurance Athlete of the Year was Brendan Boyce after his sixth place finish in 50km walk in Doha.
Irish Life Health National Athletics Awards 2019
Athlete of the Year: Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn)
Endurance Athlete of the Year: Brendan Boyce (Finn Valley)
U-20 Athlete of the Year: Kate O’Connor (St Gerard’s Dundalk)
U-23 Athlete of the Year: Eilish Flanagan (Carmen Runners)
Track & Field Athlete of the Year: Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn)
Performance Club of the Year: Raheny Shamrock
Hall of Fame: Sonia O’Sullivan
Lifetime Services to Athletics: Nick Davis
Services to Coaching: Sean Egan
Official of the Year: Bernie Dunne
Inspirational Performance of the Year on Irish Soil: Ciara Neville (Emerald)
Development Club of the Year: Carrick Aces
Mountain Runner of the Year: Sarah McCormack (Clonliffe Harriers)
Master Athlete of the Year: Annette Kealy (Raheny Shamrock)
Ultra-Athlete of the Year: Caitriona Jennings (Letterkenny)
Schools Athlete of the Year: Efrem Gidey (Le Cheile Tyrellstown/Clonliffe Harriers)
University Athlete of the Year: Marcus Lawler (IT Carlow/SLOT)
Special Recognition Award: Jim Aughney (Dublin marathon), Patricia Walsh, Marita Walton.