Athletics

Ciara Mageean scrapes into 1500m final at European Indoor Championships

Ireland's Ciara Mageean will contest today's women's 1500m final at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade
By Malcolm McCausland

Ciara Mageean (pictured) was the best of the Irish on the opening day of the 34th European Indoor Athletics Championships in Belgrade. The Portaferry woman qualified for this afternoon’s final of the 1500m, but only as one of the fastest losers after finishing fourth in her heat.

The UCD student was always well positioned in the early laps as Turkey’s Meryam Akdag cut out the pace. Mageean followed Sweden’s Meraf Bahta and Daryia Barysevich when they hit the front at the bell but was caught close to the finish line by the fast-finishing Sarah McDonald from Scotland.

It was an anxious wait for the Down woman while she watched the third and final semi-final before learning that her 4:12.81s timing was good enough for the third and final spot reserved for the fastest losers in the nine-woman final.

In contrast, Scot Laura Muir took another step toward what could be a momentous double by winning her heat in 4:10.28s after successfully negotiating the opening round heat of the 3000m in the morning.

The other Down woman Kerry O’Flaherty was sixth in her semi-final in 4:23.82s.

Tomas Cotter maintained contact with the lead group through the opening kilometres of the 3000m covered in 2:45s and 2:40s respectively.

But the Louthman had no answer when the pace quickened and ended up back in ninth with a modest 8:15.85s mark.

Worse was to follow when he was disqualified for a lane infringement.

Brian Gregan was also well off the pace when finishing sixth in his 400m semi-final with a 48.08s timing. The Clonliffe Harrier ran strongly to progress through the opening round heats in the morning but ominously was blowing heavily on the final lap as he held on to take second and an automatic qualifying spot behind defending champion Pavel Maslak in 47.62s.

North Down athlete Ben Reynolds seemed to be put off his game by two false starts before finishing sixth in the first semi-final of the 60m hurdles, won by Britain’s Andy Pozzi in 7.52s.

Reynolds took some consolation from clocking his second fastest time of the season of 7.81s but failed to progress as one of the fastest losers.

Inexperience was written all over the performance of Phil Healy in the fifth heat of the 400m. After gaining the prime inside spot approaching the bell, the 22-year-old allowed three women to cross in front of her and in the process tripped one of them.

The Cork woman came to an almost complete halt in the consequent melee and never subsequently recovered before finishing fourth in 54.80s.

Sinead Denny was eliminated in the first heat finishing fourth in 54.20s after starting in the unfavourable lane one.

John Travers stopped briefly on the first lap due to an apparent false start but went on to finish seventh in his 1500m heat clocking a slow 3:59.72s.

Former English schools’ champion Zak Curran, now representing Ireland, seemed to be out of his depth in the 800m.

With an ungainly style, arms and legs all over the place, the Loughborough student exited the second heat in fourth place with a modest 1:50.87 timing. Hopefully he will have learned from the experience on his debut at this level.

Athletics

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