Olympic postponement can work to my advantage says Ciara Mageean

Ciara Mageean recorded a personal best in the World Championship final last October, and hopes can be in a position to better that by the time the Olympic Games roll around in 2021. Picture by PA
Neil Loughran

PORTAFERRY runner Ciara Mageean hopes the Olympic Games postponement can work in her favour once she finally walks to the start line in Tokyo next year.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw organisers switch the Games - scheduled to take place in July/August - to the summer of 2021, leaving athletes across the world to reorganise their training schedules and adjust their goals.

Mageean is no different. Last October she ran a personal best in the 1,500m World Championship final in Doha to finish 10th in a time of 4:00:15.

Eight months on, and having come to terms with the initial disappointment of Olympic postponement, she feels the extra year’s preparation will be of benefit once the starting gun finally goes.

“When you’re on the crest of that wave, you want to keep going,” said the 28-year-old.

“After Doha, I was on cloud nine. It was my first World final and I wanted to continue on that upward trajectory. What’s happened [with the Olympics] put a little bit of a dampener on that, but now I feel like this can be positive for me.

“Whenever I look at that final in Doha, I was at the back of the pack and ultimately raced on my own. I came off the track and I was delighted to run a PB - 10th in the world, you can’t be bad to that – but as soon as it was over I said to my coach Steve [Vernon] ‘what do I do to be up there and in that competitive bunch of athletes?’

“That’s where I want to be. I don’t want to be at the back.”

The plan now is to put the extra 12 months to good use by building up her strength to ensure Mageean arrives in Japan next summer with the best possible chance of pushing further up the field.

She said: “It takes time. I think a sub-four minutes was possibly in me last year, but I wasn’t running a 3.55 last year. That’s just unrealistic for me to have ever achieved in one year.

“Now I’ll have had more time to try and get myself in that competitive bunch, to run a sub-four minute 1,500m at a championship. That’s where I want to be, and I have a year to build on that.

“Sometimes I have to remind myself there is a positive in all this, when you feel down about the challenges that have come up this year. Writing down reminders helps, because the day to day can be hard. Looking at the bigger picture, I know this year is going to stand to me.

“It gives me a real opportunity to build on strength and areas where I’m weaker; like, I need to get much stronger. A lot of the girls who run 1,500 can run a really fast 5k time, and I’m not at the 5k strength they are.

“If I get myself there, then I have the strength of that and the speed of the 1,500… I feel my speed will rival anybody in the field, so if I can utilise that at the end. It’s a world final in the making and hopefully a very competitive one with an Irish vest further up.

“That’s my motivation.”

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