Credit: Screenshot via Thomas Niblock (Twitter)

Ciara Mageean magnificent and positive in defeat

Ciara Mageean, from Portaferry on the hurling stronghold of the Ards peninsula in county Down, came within 0.61 of a second of winning a medal in final of the 1500m at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last night.

She finished in fourth behind Faith Kipyegon from Kenya who is the current world record holder at 1500m, and has won the event at the Olympics in 2016 and 2020 along with two previous world championships and is regarded by experts as possibly the best women’s metric miler in history.

Elite company indeed. Mageean’s own progress and prospects of doing even better at the Paris Olympics in 2024 was underlined by the fact that she once again broke her own Irish record for the event, finishing in 3:56.61. She also holds the Irish national record at 800m, indoor 1500m, and both the indoor and outdoor mile.

That places her among the elite of Irish athletes – in a discipline that has produced such greats as Ronnie Delany, Eamonn Coughlan and Sonia O’Sullivan.

Nerdish stats persons among us might note that Mageean’s record is over two seconds faster than Sonia’s 1995 personal best of 3:58.85. Some obviously believed that the National Broadcaster’s description of her effort as “creditable” was somewhat understated.

Those of us who watched the race will have been impressed with Mageean’s calm throughout, especially from her starting position on the inside lane which sometimes means that a runner can be forced out of their comfort zone and game plan by those in the outside lanes jostling for better positioning.

As the weaker runners gradually faded, Ciara was among only four with a chance inside the final lap. There was no holding the magnificent Kenyan however who swept into the lead and pulled further away. Mageean valiantly held on but as she said herself afterwards she had not sufficient left to hold on for the bronze.

But it was perhaps her post race interviews that most captured people’s hearts. She spoke of her disappointment and her plans to have a cry later, but one rarely sees someone who has just lost a major sporting competition take it in such a positive and affirming way.

She is looking forward to Paris and with good reason. She has spoken herself before about Kipyegon who she clearly admires and who may even believe she cannot beat. Possibly not.

Anyway, listen yourselves to the interview. If it can induce positivity in an old curmudgeon such as myself, there is hope for us all.



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