Ciara Mageean will race in her first competitive 1500m of the season, knowing she could set her third straight Irish National record in the space of a month.
The Portaferry runner will compete in the 1500m at Sunday’s Stockholm Diamond League against a world-class field. Amongst her rivals are 1500m Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon and 1500m European champion Laura Muir, who both battled hard to narrowly edged out Mageean last weekend in the 1000m.
Previously speaking to RTE, Mageean admitted her sights were set on Sonia O’Sullivan’s sub four-minute 1500m time, set in 1995 at the Herculis meet in Monte Carlo. O’Sullivan set the Irish record at 3:58.85 – to highlight the quality of this time, no Irish woman has since broken four minutes.
“I’ve been eyeing up Irish records for a long time and getting closer and closer,” Mageean told RTE.
“It’s definitely part of my dreams in my career to hopefully put myself on that list of Irish records and get one that stands for a while, as long as Sonia’s have stood.”
Mageean did also reveal that she focuses on the race itself as opposed to the clock.
On Sunday, she will be joined by five runners who have broken four minutes for the distance. They include the likes of Kipyegon, Muir, 5000m World champion Helen Obiri, 1500m African champion Winnie Chebet and former World bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury.
Sunday’s race looks certain to be fast and Mageean will undoubtedly have quality pacing on offer to go close to O’Sullivan’s 25-year-old record.
Currently, Mageean’s 1500m personal best sits at 4:00.15, which she achieved at last year’s World Championship final in Doha where she finished tenth.
Mageean’s form post-lockdown suggests she has made significant improvement from last season. While naturally, the postponement of the Olympic Games might have left her deflated and un-motivated, Mageean used the lockdown period to put her head down and work even harder.
“With the disappointment of everything this year, Olympics postponed and lockdown for months, my coach, my teammates and I put our heads down and worked hard,”, Mageean told RTE.
“It gives me an extra year to focus on strengthening my weaknesses, closing the gap on the girls that were ahead of me at the World Champs last year.”
“Ironically, I’m as fit as I’ve ever been. I’m so much fitter and stronger and in a really good mental place,” Mageean said.
At the end of July, in her first competitive race for five months, Mageean became the first Irish female athlete to run under two minutes in the 800m. In a significant milestone, the Portaferry athlete won the 800m in 1.59.69 at a track meeting in Bern, Switzerland. Her time surpassed the existing Irish record of 2.00.58 which was set in London by Rose Anne Galligan in 2013.
Just last week, Mageean set a new Irish National record in the 1000m, as she broke Sonia O’Sullivan’s 27-year old record with a time of 2:31.06. This was also the ninth-fastest ever by a woman, over 1000m.
Meanwhile, Athletics Ireland have confirmed that the National Championships will go ahead this weekend behind closed doors.
Unfortunately, Mageean will not participate at the National Championships after committing to the Diamond League in Monaco last weekend. Both the Principality and France are not on the Irish Government’s green list of countries from which incoming travellers can avoid the two weeks in self-isolation on arrival.
You can watch Mageean at the Diamond league on YouTube or on the BBC red button, this Sunday. Her race is scheduled to start at 15:55 Irish time!