Tokyo 2020 Day 10: Ciara Mageean out of 1,500m, while Austin O’Connor finishes 13th in showjumping

Oliver Dingley 25th in 3m springboard; Sarah Healy and Phil Healy miss out in heats

Ireland’s Ciara Mageean dejected after her 1,500m heats at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Ireland’s Ciara Mageean dejected after her 1,500m heats at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 
  • Athletics: No joy for Irish as Ciara Mageean and Sarah Healy fail to advance in 1,500m; Phil Healy misses out on 200m semi-finals
  • Diving: Oliver Dingley finishes men’s 3m springboard in 25th and misses out on semi-finals
  • Equestrian: Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue finishes 13th in individual showjumping final while Sam Watson and Sarah Ennis miss out

Athletics

The Olympic Stadium is no place to hide anything no matter how small, and try as she unquestionably did Ciara Mageean was unable to advance from her heat of the 1,500 metres during another steaming hot morning session in Tokyo.

Racing in the first of three heats, Mageean put herself to the front early on, only to drift right back over the last lap: she finished in 10th position, looked up at the stadium screen which revealed her time of 4:07.29, and clasped her face in her hands with a look of sheer anguish. Only the top six were sure of advancing to Tuesday semi-finals.

There were no excuses, though perhaps a reason, Mageean revealing she had sustained a tear in her calf muscle last Sunday week, during one of her final track sessions, reduced to light jogging for the last seven days.

With two heats to run, Mageean still had an outside chance of securing one of the six fastest losing, only that soon disappeared when the third heat was won by defending Kenya’s Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon in 4:01.40, the fastest ever heat in this event in Olympic history, and which also saw 20-year-old Sarah Healy make her exit after finishing 11th in 4:09.78.

Sarah Healy also missed out in the 1,500m. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Sarah Healy also missed out in the 1,500m. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

After making the World Championship final in 2019, then breaking several Irish records last year, Mageean had real ambitions of going all the way to the final here. There were few tears this time, only Mageean also revealed she cries when she thinks about the sudden death of her former coach Jerry Kiernan back in January, and that as Olympic race preparations go hers were far from perfect.

“I’m really disappointed,” she said, “I’ve proven I’m a world-class 1,500m runner and that wasn’t to the level I know I am. I’m not one for making excuses, I didn’t have an ideal week last week. I had a rocky week, last week, to say the least.

“My last session leading into it, I hurt myself, something happened, I tore my calf, and I didn’t get to run Monday to Friday, I ran Saturday and Sunday. It was a small thing, normally two weeks and it’d be grand, but I had a week until the Olympic Games. I wanted to cry, Sunday, my last 1,500m session, no rhyme or reason to it. I have always had Achilles issues, not calf.

“I took it in my stride at the start but as the week went on I got a little anxious, it’s not ideal, you don’t want that going into an Olympic Games. I don’t get soft tissue injuries, I get chronic tendon injuries. This year has been strange, I tore my glute (in April) and the doctor was like, ‘I’ve never seen this in a runner, never mind an elite runner.’

“In the immediate week that’s tough. I can’t make a calf heal faster. Maybe it doesn’t help I’m a physio and I know that. I put my spikes on for the first time yesterday and it was okay, I can block that (discomfort) out, it wasn’t that in the race, but it was probably the effect of the week. And at the beginning of this year where I had a rocky time, Jerry’s death hit me pretty hard, and I still cry.”

Anyone who has sustained a calf muscle injury will know it can feel like one leg is less powerful than the other, although Mageean gave it her level best, her heat won by Canada’s Gabriala DeBues-Stafford in 4:03.70 ahead of Britain’s Laura Muir. Mageean’s best is 4:00.15

“Anybody who has seen me racing over the last number of years knows that I’m a tough competitor,” added the 29-year-old. “And I know I am, and whenever I put on an Irish vest I raise my game. And that was subpar for me today, it wasn’t trying lack of trying, I gave it everything out there, ran through the line. I just didn’t have my usual edge whenever the hammer fell, and I’m disappointed with that.”

For Healy, being in what turned out to be the fastest 1,500 heat in women’s Olympic history didn’t help her task, although even at age 20 she didn’t disguise her regret at not trying to stick with the pace for longer.

“What I hoped would happen happened, they went out really hard and I was ready to just to hang at whatever pace,” Healy said. “I think I definitely got too nervous before, I was a bit overwhelmed. I knew coming in I had to fully commit, not half commit, and I did exactly. I kind of couldn’t make up my mind, and just checked out.

“Looking back I let myself get too nervous, and I probably wasted too much energy, so I’m obviously really disappointed, because I wanted to run to my potential, and I definitely did not do that today. So 100 per cent I should have committed, and not held back. So I don’t know if I will watch it back to be honest.”

There were real Olympic nerves too: “Yeah, 100 per cent. I get nervous before, but never out of control. I think today I just let it get the better of me, and that’s on me I suppose. I think I let the occasion get the best of me.

“Everyone says that, they’ll be back next time. But I’m here now and I felt like I could make the semi-final is I ran to my potential. This was my Olympic final, and I didn’t run it like that today. Still I am proud of myself for getting here, and turning around a bad year.”

The second heat produced one of the most surreal of Olympic performances ever, after Dutch runner Sifan Hassan, attempting an unprecedented track treble in Tokyo, fell over a runner who had tripped in front of her shortly after the bell.

Hassan rolled around for a second then leaped to her feet and gave chase, somehow still winning the heat in 4:05.17, having covered the last 300m in 43.7. This being less than 12 hours before she looks to win the 5,000m here on Monday evening, with two more rounds of the 1,500m (semi-final and final), before she attempts to win the 10,000m too.

Later in the heats of the women’s 200m Phil Healy was back on the track two days after running the 4x400m mixed relay final, in the sixth heat alongside Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah, now the fastest woman alive after winning the women’s 100m on Saturday evening.

Phil Healy finishes fifth in her 200m heats. Photo: Charlie Riedel/AP Photo
Phil Healy finishes fifth in her 200m heats. Photo: Charlie Riedel/AP Photo

Thompson-Herah cruised to third in 22.86, Canada’s Crystal Emmanuel winning in 22.74, and although Healy clocked a season best of 23.21 in fifth that wasn’t good to progress either.

“Yeah, obviously I would have loved quicker, but look, coming in I had to sacrifice my own individual (event) to a certain extent for the relay, but if you asked me a couple of weeks ago if I wanted to be an Olympic finalist of course I would have taken that over anything. When you turn to the individual of course you want to progress, and it was a season best, after two all-out 400ms in a matter of days beforehand, before coming out here at the crack of dawn in the morning.”

Healy still has the 400m to come: “I’m the first Irish person to qualify in three events, so I am going to go out tomorrow and give it my all, anything can happen it’s a new day.”

The morning session ended with a 100m hurdles gold medal for Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, thus becoming Puerto Rico’s first Olympic champion in athletics. After clocking an Olympic record of 12.26 in yesterday’s semis, she won in the final in 12.37. World record-holder Kendra Harrison of the US won silver in 12.52.

Equestrian

Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue qualified for the showjumping individual final after clipping just one fence on their way to a time of 76.63 seconds with four faults.

After coming into the day in 20th place after Sunday’s cross country, O’Connor and Colorado Blue did enough for a score of 42.0 to finish 18th with the top-25 reaching the final.

Austin O’Connor rides Colorado Blue during Sunday’s cross country section. Photo: Libby Law/Inpho
Austin O’Connor rides Colorado Blue during Sunday’s cross country section. Photo: Libby Law/Inpho

In that finale the pair recorded a 13th place finish after four faults on their way around. It was O’Connor’s best ever finish in his three Olympic appearances, improving on 17th and 21st in Sydney and Beijing. 

Speaking after all the action, O’Connor said: “I feel amazing. He is a phenomenal horse, this is his first Championships. I was drawn in at the very last minute so I was hanging on in there for the last five or six weeks which is a seriously difficult circumstance to be in. The bottom line is we both showed our professionalism and I hope I did everyone at home proud.”

Germany’s Julia Krajewski took gold in the individual event on board Amande de B’Neville while Britain’s Tom McEwan won silver on Toldeo de Kerser and Andrew Hoy of Australia won bronze with Vassily de Lassos.

In the eventing team event, Ireland finished eighth while Britain took gold with Australia in silver and France in bronze.Sam Watson riding Flamenco (30th) and Sarah Ennis riding Woodcourt Garrison (36th) miss out. The final will take place at 12.45pm on Monday afternoon.

Diving

Oliver Dingley’s 25th place in his second Olympic Games was not enough to earn the Irish diver a place in the finals of the men’s 3m springboard at the Tokyo Aquatics centre.

The England-born 28-year-old, who became the first Irish diver to qualify for an Olympics in Rio 2016 and came eighth in the final phase, could not bring along the same form he did five years ago.

Dingley was placed 22nd after round one of the preliminaries, where just 18 qualified for the final from a field of 29 divers.

But it was the second dive of his six that cost dearly with all the judges marking him five points or less, while the leading Chinese divers Zongyuan Wang and Siyi Xie were earning upwards of nine from the same judges.

While he greatly improved from there, he just couldn’t shift himself from around the 25th to 27th mark as the field was consistently setting a higher scoring pace.

Oliver Dingley competing in the men’s 3m springboard heats. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Oliver Dingley competing in the men’s 3m springboard heats. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

“I’ve definitely had the highs and lows of Olympic experiences now. I felt a bit useless. I was just looking back at the scoreboard there, but at the same time to stand out there on the diving board representing my family, friends, loved ones, coaches, Team Ireland and the whole country I’m very proud,” said Dingley.

“It’s tough to swallow but that’s high-level sport. You make one mistake in the air and it gets exaggerated and it’s a snowball effect. Especially in my second round, it got a bit tough. I lost my balance on the diving board and it was always going to be a challenge to pull it back from there and at this level ... those guys competing there are phenomenal.”

His run of points was 63.00 for the first dive, 40.30 for the second, 59.50, 54.00, 57.00 and finally a 61.20 from his most difficult dive - a back two and a half somersaults with one and a half twists. That gave Dingley a total mark of 335 points and a place outside the 18 qualifiers.

“To be a part of that crowd … my result is not as good as Rio, an Olympic finalist, I came into this really you know to enjoy the moment and do well and I’m proud but at the same time I just wish I could have made a few changes in the air but that’s high-level sport and it happens,” he said.

Tokyo 2020

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