Portaferry's Ciara Mageean set for Belfast International
IRELAND'S top female middle-distance runner Ciara Mageean is the latest star recruited by meeting director Eamonn Christie for the Belfast International at the Mary Peters Track on May 7.
The meeting is jointly organised by Athletics NI, Beechmount Harriers and the Irish Milers’
It will be an emotional return for Mageean, now based in Dublin, to the track where she cut her teeth under the tutelage of coach Christie before moving to UCD. World Youth and Junior medals came during a fruitful partnership between the pair.
The Portaferry woman is already certain of selection for this summer’s Rio Olympics after gaining the 1500m qualifying time at the end of last season but she will be moving up a distance next weekend when she tackles the 3000m.
And she will no doubt will be targeting Roisin Smith’s best ever outdoor mark of 8:55.38 for the distance by a Northern Ireland athlete.
She ran 8:55.09 indoors in Boston earlier this year but has yet to break nine minutes outdoors
and, with the days rapidly counting down to the Olympics, will be anxious to send out a message to the opposition on what could be her seasonal debut.
Christie also revealed that four top Polish athletes will be competing at the meeting. These include two 800m runners, 19-year-old Mateusz Borkowski and World Universities’ Games 1600m relay bronze medallist Kamil Gurdak with bests under 1:48, and Monika Halasa, who ran 2:04.03 for two laps in 2013.
Aside from the good news about his former protegee, Christie had another reason to celebrate this week when he received confirmation of a generous grant from Belfast City Council to cover some of the meeting expenses.
In another first for Northern athletics, there will be a live stream of the meeting on the internet by a company called nTrai that recently transmitted coverage of the Irish Universities’ championships from Morton Stadium in Dublin.