Ciara Mageean will be looking to take advantage of the new “super-fast” track in the renovated King Baudouin Stadium as she lines up for the penultimate Diamond League fixture in Brussels on Friday evening.
The Portaferry woman joins world champions Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Shericka Jackson, Femke Bol and Mondo Duplantis, among others, with qualification at stake for the season finale in Eugene, Oregon on September 16/17/
Meeting director Kim Gevaert announced this week that she was “super-happy” with the work that has been done on the track whose final curve has been designed to encourage fast times for 200m and 400m runners in particular.
“The track at the King Baudouin Stadium has always been a good track, but it was really worn down to the bone,” Gevaert said. “It was high time for a new one. It was fine for sprinters, but the old track had become too hard for distance runners.”
- Sarah Lavin becomes Ireland's fastest woman after setting new 100m record
- "People will fear the wee tricolour up on the start line": Brilliant Ciara Mageean misses out agonisingly on World Championships medal after record-breaking run
- Rhasidat Adeleke just misses out on podium in Budapest
It will be only Mageean’s second competitive appearance since her fantastic fourth place in the 1500m at the World Athletics Championships in Hungary last month. She finished runner-up last Sunday in the 800m at a meeting in Padova, Italy in 2:00.08 behind American Sinclaire Johnson who won in a personal best 1:59.76.
The City of Lisburn athlete set a new Irish 1500m record in Budapest in taking fourth place, breaking her own former mark with a 3:56.61 clocking. Although none of the three who finished in front of her on that occasion will be in the field tonight, she is only fourth fastest this season of the listed athletes.
A lot was expected of Ethiopia’s Hirut Meshesha at the Worlds, but she finished a disappointing ninth in her semi-final and was eliminated in 4:04.27, almost ten seconds outside her best of 3:54.87. Her compatriot Haylom Birke did little better ending up ninth in the final in 4:01.51 despite having run 3:54.93.
Mageean’s long-term nemesis Laura Muir is also faster than the Down woman with a 3:56.36 timing but has failed to finish in front of her this season. Also in the field is Kenya’s Nancy Chepchirchir was fifth behind Mageean in Budapest registering a 3:56.72 timing.
Mageean is not the only Irish athlete on the entry-lists as published earlier this week. Galway Paralympian Shauna Bocquet takes part in the wheelchair 100m. Bocquet who suffers from spina bifida represented Ireland this July at the World ParaChampionships in Paris.
With the track & field season coming rapidly to a conclusion, the focus switches to the road and Sunday’s Great North Run when four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah will race for the final time. Farah (40) finished fourth in his penultimate race at the Big Half in London last weekend despite struggling with a cold.
Farah has won the Great North Run six times but is unlikely to add to that number as he faces three-time world half-marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya and Ethiopia's two-time world 5,000m champion Muktar Edris.
Olympic marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya leads the women's line-up, while Charlotte Purdue heads the British entries. The BBC will be providing extensive coverage of the event across its network of channels.
Two Northern athletes are included in the five-strong team that Athletics Ireland has selected to compete at the World Athletics Road Running Championships to be held in Riga, Latvia from September 30 to October 1.
Armagh AC’s Fionnuala Ross joins Shona Heaslip in the women’s half-marathon while St Malachy’s two-time Olympian Kevin Seaward will lead the men's contingent in the half-marathon where he will be accompanied by Peter Lynch and Hiko Haso Tonosa.
THE WEEK AHEAD
7pm Ards 5 Mile Road Race - Londonderry Park, N’Ards
11am Run Fintona Run - Fintona Pearses Pitch
11.30am Hugo Duggan Memorial 10K - Milford, Co Donegal
1pm Portaferry 10K Road Race - Portaferry GAC