Athletics

Ciara Mageean to make 1500m seasonal debut in Belgium

Ciara Mageean will compete at 1500m in Belgium 
Malcolm McCausland

CIARA Mageean headlines what promises to be another hectic weekend with the Portaferry woman making her seasonal debut over 1500m at the IFAM meeting in Oordegem, Belgium on Saturday.

Although already qualified at the distance for the Rio Olympics, Mageean will be looking to make an encouraging start to her racing season after expressing mixed reactions to a pipe opener over 3000m at the Mary Peters earlier this month.

Mageean was 12 seconds outside her best that evening but was nevertheless pleased with her form after coming through her first injury-free winter for some years.

“I know what I’d love to do!” said the 24-year-old. “Like any athlete going into a Games we have our dreams and what we hope to achieve. I don’t think I have tapped into all of my potential yet, my junior career showed a lot of promise. It’s hard; a lot of juniors go through their career and they don’t make it on the senior stage.

“I had that blip, I missed my entire Under-23 career and it’s hard enough to take that step up to senior level never mind having missed that chunk. For now, I think this is only the beginning,” added Mageean who missed the London Olympics through injury.

It will be interesting to see how many athletes turn up for the AAI Games (11:00am) at Morton stadium on Sunday with Mageean being just one of significant number of Irish athletes competing in Belgium and another large contingent at the BMC Grand Prix in Watford on Saturday night. The entry date for the meeting was extended several days, not usually a portent of a huge entry.

Away from the track, the Pure Running Belfast Hills 8.8Km race looks like the top fixture of the weekend.  Organised by North Belfast Harriers, the races starts from the Boys’ Model, in North Belfast at 11am on Saturday. The race offers participants an opportunity to test themselves over the trails of Cave Hill Country Park, taking in the stunning views from Belfast Castle, Bellevue and McArt’s Fort.

Saturday also sees County Antrim Harriers host their May Fair 10K and 5K from Ballyclare Rugby Club and the start time there is 10am.  On Sunday it is the turn of the Newry Marathon with an early 8am kick off from the McGrath Centre.

Up in 5K central, formerly known as County Donegal, there is a race in Donegal Town tonight. If you miss that there are another four between now and next Friday.  Yes and they are all over 5K! So much for variety being the spice of life in Donegal!

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