THE richly talented Ciara Mageean smashed two more Irish junior records at the New Balance Indoor Games in New York over the weekend, but in the process, was reminded of how competitive the sport can be at this level.
The 18-year-old Mageean was relegated to seventh place in the 12-runner elite mile field, which was probably less than she had hoped for when she crossed the Atlantic from her home in County Down.
But she is sure to look at her experience as making yet further headway up the ladder. For, not alone did Mageean break the indoor mile record set 13 years ago by Anita Philpott from Cork, but she also smashed her own 1,500m mark en route by almost four full seconds -- and that is real progress.
Mageean was timed at the 1,500m mark at four minutes 17 seconds, which obliterated the national junior mark of 4:20.88, which she set when winning the Irish senior title in Belfast two years ago.
Both herself and her coach Eamonn Christie will view that as a big step in the right direction as she makes the transition from junior to senior competitions.
Mageean's mile time of 4:38.81 improved on Philpott's 4:41.76 set in Boston in 1988. Victory in the event went to Jen Simpson of the USA in 4:28.60.
Elsewhere, Mike Kigen, the classy Kenyan, gave an exhibition of top-class running when he won Saturday's IAAF cross-country international over the inviting Greenmount course in Co Antrim, the 25-year-old sprinting clear in the closing stages of the 9km event.
Kigen eventually won by six seconds over fellow countryman and world junior 10,000m champion Titus Mbishei in a time of 26:07, with the challenge of Britain's much vaunted Andy Vernon petering out in the second half of the race. Unfortunately, the Irish challenge was non-existent, although Waterford's Shane Quinn won the junior men's event from Scotland's Lachlan Oates.
Charlotte Purdue -- the recent winner of the European junior title -- had a handsome margin to spare over her opponents when winning the women's event.
Meanwhile, Joan Healy (Bandon AC), winner of the national junior title last week, was back in action in the 60m at the AAI Games in Nenagh and defeated Niamh Whelan of Ferrybank to win in 7.71 seconds. The two men's 60m races were won by David Quilligan (Leevale AC) in 7.17 and Paul Whelan (Dublin Striders) in 7.15, while David McCarthy (Le Cheile AC) came through to win the 1,000m in 2:29.31.
Once more Kate Veale showed her class when winning the 3000m walk in a time of 13:11.86, just one second outside her national record.