English and Mageean eye big finish to indoor season
Mark English and Ciara Mageean will be the star attractions at the GloHealth National Indoor Championships in Athlone this weekend, with both looking to close their successful indoor seasons on a high.
English was a late addition to the event in recent days, having extended his indoor campaign after a strong run in Glasgow last Saturday, where he finished second in a world-class 800m field in 1:46.99.
Though that wasn't enough to qualify him for the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland - the standard is 1:46.50 - the door is still open for him to compete as IAAF rules state that each member federation can send one male and female athlete if none has reached the standard.
With none of the top three from last year's World Championships due to compete, the prospect of a world indoor medal may yet be enough to lure him to Portland for the event, which begins on March 17.
For Ireland's top female athletes, there is no such option available, as both Mageean and Rose-Anne Galligan ran the qualifying time over 1,500m.
Mageean, though, will not run in Portland, preferring to close her indoor campaign in Athlone, capping a season where she broke the Irish 1,500m and mile records, running 4:08.66 and 4:28.40 respectively. The Portaferry native is entered in both the 800m and 1,500m, but will only contest one.
"We're judging it based on how my body feels," she said earlier this week. "I want a good fast race, so I'd rather be in the hardest one. I've been training even better than my race times, so there's more to come."
Mageean is already qualified for the Olympics over 1,500m, and after taking some down time next week, she will commence her preparations for what could be a huge summer.
"This is the first winter I've put good mileage in and we aim to keep building on it," she said.
Elsewhere in Athlone, the women's 400m should serve up a close contest, with junior record holder Jenna Bromell squaring off against 400m hurdles specialist Christine McMahon.
Meanwhile, Rob Heffernan's long wait for an Olympic medal looks set to continue after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said that it would not release its decision on the case involving Russian race walk Sergey Kirdyapkin for several days.