Home News Ciara Mageean aiming for another medal at Euro XC

Ciara Mageean aiming for another medal at Euro XC


The word is out that World Junior 1500 metres runner-up Ciara Mageean will be aiming for a medal in this weekend’s European Cross Country Champs in Albufeira,Portugal. Coach Eamonn Christie who will be travelling with the large 36 party Irish team as part of the management has made no bones about the Potaferry star’s intentions.
He said;
“Ciara has never raced in these Champs in good conditions. When she finished 17th in 2008 and 9th in Dublin last year the courses were very muddy after heavy rain.

This will not be the case on Sunday when the dry mild conditions on the Algarve will favour track runners like Ciara. She has trained well in recent weeks after the Commonwealths and will be covering any breaks by the leaders.Quite simply she will be trying to win the race"

This bold ambition might be just be a realistic one despite the fact that a winner of this race has always been difficult to predict.However, this time the statistics might just favour Ciara despite the fact that 4 of last years top 5 finishers will be racing again.

Mageean is 3 secs faster over 1500 metres than anyone else in the field which is bound to give her the edge in any sprint finish.The race however does have a number of athletes with serious track credentials albeit over longer distances. 

The Russian Junior 5000 metres recold holder Gulshat Fazlitdinova lost the title last year by just 2 secs. GB’S Charlotte Purdoe won both the title two years ago and the recent Trial race in Liverpool. New wonder girl Emelia Gorecka was second in the Trial followed by Kate Avery who took bronze in Dublin last year.Add to this two athletes from Germany and Italy who finished ahead of Ciara in Dublin.

However,Mageean has enjoyed an outstanding 2010 year and a win in Potugal would be the icing on the cake. Certainly her travelling supporters are all hoping for at least a podium result.If Ciara succeeds she will be Ireland’s first medallist since Fionnuala Britton’s silver in the U23 event in 2006.

"The way I would sum up Ciara’s chances is top five but with a good medal shout," says Christie. 

As ever, the composed Mageean is not getting too wound up about the opposition. 

"I don’t really look at opponents before races. In track races, you can compare PBs but cross country is different and every course is different. Everybody has a different approach and it depends on how you feel on the day. In cross country I just step out on the course and keep my eye on the leader." 

The Portaferry girl was the only non-African to win a medal in Moncton in the middle and long distance events in both male and female competition. 

A measure of that increasing profile is the invitation to the famed Millrose Games indoor meeting at Madison Square Garden next month which recently arrived in Mageean’s email inbox and the youngster is already looking forward to striding on boards made famous by her legendary compatriot Eamonn Coghlan. 

"I’m really looking forward to that. I haven’t had too many indoor races, just at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast and a few races over in England," adds Ciara. 

Indeed, coach Eamonn Christie says Mageean’s winter campaign could end with a tilt at the European Indoors in Paris during March which would be another opportunity to mix it with some world-class senior athletes. 

Training partner Emma Mitchell from Banbridge who was an impressive second to Ciara in the Irish Trials will also be in the start line.The equivalent Men’s race will have Letterkenny’s Darren McBrearty and Dromore’s Ryan McDermott.

Newcastle’s Kerry Harty is back to full fitness after a nightmare injury period and will be racing in the Senior Women’s 8k.

Most of the large Irish team will find the standard of European competition a real challenge. Best of the bunch will be Britton who was an emphatic winner in the Inter Counties 2 weeks ago.She will be aiming to improve on her solid 11th place from last year just ahead of Mary Cullen who is currently recovering from a broken collar bone.

Joe Sweeney who was another easy winner in the Inter Counties will lead the Senior Mens challenge along with Mark Christie.

A joint-record 515 athletes from 33 countries are entered for this year’s event in Albufeira, which comprises six races during Sunday.

European Cross Country Championships

12 December

1100-1600, BBC Red Button/online 

RTE2 has live coverage from Albufeira from 2.0, Sunday.

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