Laura Muir lands double gold as Ciara Mageean fails to finish 1500m final

Britain's Laura Muir celebrates winning the women's 3000m final during the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade Picture by AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic
Britain's Laura Muir celebrates winning the women's 3000m final during the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade Picture by AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

IT was a disappointing 34th European Indoor Athletics Championships for Ireland that ended in Belgrade yesterday evening.

The country’s best hope of a medal, Ciara Mageean, failed to finish the 1500m final claiming to have a sore achilles tendon.

Mageean, a bronze medallist in the European outdoor championships last summer, had failed to impress in the heats and looked flat in the opening laps of the final. After holding down fourth spot, the Portaferry woman drifted back before stepping off the track with two laps remaining.

Back in the RTE studio, her coach and athletics pundit Jerry Kiernan cited the fact that his charge had suffered a cold two or three weeks earlier.

Meanwhile, a visibly distraught Mageean was giving an interview in Kombank Arena in which she said she was injured.

“I felt my achilles and I just wanted to get off and get back to my physio,” said Mageean.

“I don’t have any answers, I don’t know why my foot is so sore right now, I usually have quite a good pain threshold…. I’m sorry for that performance there today.”

Britain’s Laura Muir won the race in a championship and British record of 4:02.39.

The flying Scot added the 3000m title yesterday in another meeting best to compete a sensational double.

Kiernan’s other athlete did not fare much better with John Travers finishing 11th and last in the men’s 1500m.

The Dubliner was fortunate to be in the final after the jury of appeal advanced him and Spain’s Marc Alcala following a faulty false start that caused confusion in the heat .

Travers and Spain’s Alcala had slowed down when they responded to a recall gun while the rest of the field had continued to contest the heat.

"Unfortunately I didn't put in the performance I wanted to put in," said Travers after the race which was won by Poland's Marcin Lewandowski..

Both Irish sprinters Joan Healy and Ciara Neville failed to progress beyond yesterday's 60m semi-finals.

At home, City of Derry Spartans regained their men’s team title at the NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships at Lurgan Park.

Aaron Doherty retained the individual crown to set the Derry men off to a good start in the team competition.

North Belfast Harrier Mark McKinstry grabbed the runner-up spot with Glaslough Harrier Conor Duffy taking the bronze medal.

The Spartans packed well with Declan Reed in fourth and Noel Logan and John Lenihan also occupying top 10 spots. Emmett McGinty was in the mid-teens, while Kyle Doherty in 22nd completed the Foylesiders scoring sextet. North Belfast Harriers were second with 2016 team winners Newcastle & District back in third.

It is possible that no club has ever previously supplied the first three finishers in the women’s race but that is exactly what North Down did.

Jessica Craig capped a memorable winter season for her with a confident individual victory.

Behind her, Rachel Gibson never gave up the chase but in the end had to be content with second place, while Jodi Smith added the individual bronze to her intermediate gold back in January.

The Bangor girls made it a notable double with a comfortable team victory, sealed by fourth scorer Sarah Lindsay back in 19th place.

Defending champions Beechmount Harriers were second, with Lagan Valley in third and once dominant North Belfast back in sixth on this occasion.

Queen’s University’s Neil Johnston was runner-up in the Irish Universities’ Cross Country; Johnny Steed and Diane Wilson were first home in their respective categories at the 45th Slieve Gullion Mountain Race and Mark Long was the winner of the SSE 10 Miles Road Race in Derry where Catherine Lilburn was the leading lady.

NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country

Men: 1 Aaron Doherty (City of Derry Spartans) 39:08, 2 Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) 39:13, 3 Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) 39:23, 4 Declan Reed (CoDS) 39:32, 5 David O’Flaherty (Newcastle) 39:59, 6 Seamus Lynch (Newcastle) 40:28, 7 John Craig (Victoria AC) 40:41, 8 John Black (NBH) 40:43, 9 Noel Logan (CoDS) 40:50, 10 John Lenihan (CoDs) 40:54

Teams: 1 City of Derry Spartans 61, 2 North Belfast Harriers 84, 3 Newcastle AC 113

Women: 1 Jessica Craig (North Down) 22:48, 2 Rachel Gibson (North Down) 22:55, 3 Jodi Smith (North Down) 23:06, 4 Catherine Diver (Beechmount Hrs) 23:29, 5 Gerrie Short (Beechmount Hrs) 23:33, 6 Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny) 23:34, 7 Esther Dickson (Newry) 23:46, 8 Sarah Lavery (NBH) 23:50, 9 Louise Smith (NBH) 23:57, 10 Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley) 24:18

Teams: 1 North Down 25, 2 Beechmount Hrs 46, 3 Lagan Valley 58