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Dublin: 0°C Thursday 3 December 2020
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'That's not bad for a wee girl from Portaferry... I'm grateful to be able to wear this vest'

Ireland’s Ciara Mageean gave an inspiring interview after her World Championships 1,500m final.

Ciara Mageean.
Ciara Mageean.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

ANOTHER RACE, ANOTHER brilliant post-race interview from Ciara Mageean.

That said, this wasn’t just any race today. It was a World Championships final; and one she recorded a new personal best (4:00.15) in as the Portaferry star finished 10th in a phenomenal 1,500m field.

In qualifying for the showpiece, Mageean became the first Irish female athlete to reach a World Athletics Championships 1,500m final since Sonia O’Sullivan achieved the feat in Athens back in 1997.

And although Sifan Hassan took gold, Mageean was in superb form afterwards in conversation with David Gillick for RTÉ Sport.

“I’m absolutely over the moon,” she said in the mixed zone.

“I said I’d come in and throw everything and the kitchen sink at it. I did, that pace went out hard. I know there’s girls out there who have ran 3.56 — I’m just not there yet.

But whenever the pace went, I said ‘Okay, Ciara don’t get disheartened. You’re at the back of the field but that’s okay. I came into this competition probably ranked 14th or 16th and came 10th in the world. That’s not a bad place for a wee girl from Portaferry.

“Yeah, I’m delighted. It shows me that I’ve a lot of work to do to be where I want to be. First place is my goal in life, I see the work between me and those girls and I’m gonna work super hard over the next while to close that gap.”

Elite Dutch athlete Hassan set a blistering pace from the outset and though Mageean struggled at times, she more than held her own and produced a really impressive performance.

“Coming down that last home straight, I was hurting,” the 27-year-old continued. “And it’s very hard whenever you know you’re at the back of the field. Sometimes you’re mind can go, but I said, ‘Ciara, there’s girls in front to catch.’

I did everything I could to catch the Ugandan girl… and 10th in the world — listen, I put the swan on a lead and I tried my best to keep hold of it!”

15 seconds off breaking the four-minute mark, Mageean can take huge encouragement from her performance in a stellar field — and indeed, her brilliant showing at this championships.

That magic sub-four minute 15, though, as she puts it herself?

“I know it’s there,” she assures. “I went out and ran 4.01 in a split of a mile over in Monaco and it showed me where I can be. Give me another race and I could run sub-four but it’s October.

“I’m ready for a break, I’m gonna fly into Dublin, watch the girls play football in Tallaght [Ireland's Euro 2021 qualifier against Ukraine on Tuesday night]. I can’t wait! See my boyfriend, see my family and then the hard work starts again.”

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ciara-mageean-running-in-the-womens-1500m-final During the race. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Well aware she can take a whole lot from this as she eyes Tokyo 2020 and the prospect of making an Olympic final — “this is another stepping stone, 10th in world final is my benchmark. Now I want to go to Tokyo and do even better” — she thanked all who spurred her on for the support.

From the Irish in the crowd at the Khalifa International Stadium to her family, from everyone at Athletics Ireland and Athletics NI, her coach and her training group, Mageean graciously signed off.

“I have to say a huge thank you to everybody out in the crowd,” she smiled.

I saw the tricolours and the Down jerseys, that’s a special touch. It’s an absolute credit and I’m so grateful for that. I see the messages coming through and it really means so much, it gives you a lift.

“I think everybody can see I’m a different athlete now, it’s clear to see just how much I’m enjoying it. I’m grateful to be able to wear this vest, to be able to represent my country, my hometown, my county and my team in Manchester. Fantastic season!”

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Emma Duffy

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