Delighting the home crowd and herself, Ciara Mageean produced a stunning victory over 1,500m at the Athlone International Grand Prix, scoring an indoor hat-trick of sorts: a personal best, an Irish record and a stadium record.
Every stride oozing confidence, Mageean bided her time before she blew past Claudia Bobocea from Romania down the back stretch, still in total control when winning in 4:06.76, improving her previous best and her own Irish record of 4:08.55 set three years ago. Less than three weeks before the European Indoors in Glasgow, it was a big statement.
“Stadium record, Irish record, and delighted as well to come away with the win in front of an Irish crowd,” said a beaming Mageean. “My plan was to win, regardless of the pace, but the pacer was spot on, and once she stepped off, and Bobocea took it on, I was more than happy to go with that. I promised the win in Athlone, and delighted to give them a stadium record as well.
“I’m in good shape, feel really good. It’s very hard for athletes. people expect us to win, win, win, but life isn’t like that. I’ve moved to a new group, and that’s been great for me, training with a new group.”
Sarah Healy was sixth in 4:16.98, just shy of her indoor best, on her 18th birthday.
Mark English promptly followed suit, his 800m victory arguably his best indoor performance since winning the silver medal at the 2015 European Indoor Championships in Prague. His time was just shy of his Irish record of 1:46.92, set back in 2014.
"Good prep [for Glasgow] for sure, and nice to get a good time like that," said English, who held the American Erik Sowinski to second in 1:47.64. "I didn't think it was that quick, so that was a nice surprise. The crowd was really good, gets all the adrenaline pumping...it's amazing to come here and get that support, and we're thankful for that."
Thomas Barr, racing the 400m flat with no hurdles to contend, fell just short – and those words are justified – of a third home victory in quick succession. Unlike last year, Barr was marginally off at the finish, diving then tumbling over the line in second, just short of the Dutch champion Tony Van Diepen, who clocked 47.01 to Barr's 47.05.
“I just didn’t have the legs, he [Tony] had the extra gear, but I gave it everything I had, just fell short.”
Su Bingtian, China's fastest man, won the 60 in 6.52 seconds, beating the stadium record as expected.
Marcin Lewandowski of Poland won the mile in 3:56.44, just holding off the young Australian Stewart McSweyn. John Travers was fourth in 3:58.48.