Illness forces Ciara Mageean to drop out of 1,500m final

Irish runner struggled after her heat yesterday and dropped out with two laps to go

Ireland’s Ciara Mageean after dropping out of the 1,500m final at the European Indoor Athletics Championships. Photo: Sasa Pahic Szabo/Inpho

They say anything can happen in a championship final, although not finishing wasn't what Ciara Mageean had in mind in Belgrade tonight, the Irish woman dropping out of the European Indoors 1,500 metres not long after the drifting off the pace.

Mageean came to Belgrade still nursing a head cold and, as disappointing as the run was, that clearly took its toll. As Britain's Laura Muir produced a virtual gun-to-tape victory to win in a championship record 4:02.40, Mageean was cut adrift even before halfway, her race already run.

She then stepped off the track with just under two laps, or 400 metres, to go, dropping her hands onto her knees, and cut a disconsolate figure as Muir simply romped on to victory.

“I honestly don’t know what happened,” she said, admitting she also felt a pain in her Achilles tendon. “I felt comfortable enough. But going around there, I felt I was losing power in my right Achilles, and I just wanted to get off.

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“But sometimes uncomfortable. Training has been going well, but something is up. I normally have a pretty good pain threshold. I didn’t just want to make up the numbers, but it’s very frustrating, I hope this won’t set me back. I can’t think of too many positives right now. I’m just sorry for that performance there today.”

The burning pace didn't help (her coach Jerry Kiernan had indicated beforehand that a slower pace would be preferred), but in many ways the writing was on the wall. The 24 year-old just about scrapped into the final on Friday evening, finishing fourth in her heat, going through as the third and last fastest loser.

She was coughing after that race, and was vomiting too, and while naturally optimistic, it was always asking a lot for her to turn it around in just over 24 hours.

Muir, however, looked unstoppable, tearing to the front with just over 400m run and never looking pack: she’ll now look to complete a 1,500-3,000m double on Sunday afternoon.

Silver medal went to the 20-year old German Konstanze Klosterhalfen who ran a lifetime best of 4:04:45, with bronze going to Poland's Sofia Ennaoni in 4:06.39, both those times incidentally better than Mageean's best of 4:08.66.

It’s back to the drawing board for Mageean, who was always using the indoor season as a natural stepping stone to the World Championships in London this August.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

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