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Athletics: Mageean to shun glamour invitation as she focuses on Irish Indoors

Irish star Ciara Mageean (18) has turned down an invitation to race at the prestigious Millrose Games in Madison Square Gardens on this day week.

Fresh from signing an unprecedented sponsorship deal with New Balance last week, the Portaferry teenager flew out to the USA yesterday to compete in her first major indoor race abroad.

But she has decided not to take up the opportunity to race in the famous MSG, preferring to come home to concentrate on next month's Irish Indoor Championships, with a view to qualifying for the European Indoors in Paris in early March.

"I am hoping to run a full indoor season and, hopefully, to qualify for Paris. So, the national indoors in the Odyssey will play a big part in that," she revealed. "Going to America, however, is certainly something new for me and I'm really looking forward to the challenge."


Mageean is inexperienced on the boards, but it was at the Irish Indoors that she first stole the headlines when she won the national senior 1,500m title aged just 15.

Tomorrow's mile race at the New Balance Games on New York's Armory track offers her an ideal entry-level race, as it includes former NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) star Jenny Simpson, back after a long injury lay-off, Serbia's World University Games 1,500m champion Marina Muncan and Canadian Olympian Megan Wright.

Mageean's new sponsorship deal is unprecedented, as shoe companies tend to sign up college stars or those who have just graduated. After completing her A-levels last summer, she has taken this season out as a 'gap year' before making any decision about her academic future, but her new sponsorship could yet allow her to defer her college start until after the London Olympics if she chooses.

Mageean's trip to New York means she will miss tomorrow's big IAAF Antrim cross-country event in Greenmount (1.30), which has attracted both European junior champions -- Spain's Abdelaziz Merzougui and Britain's Charlotte Purdue -- as well as a host of Kenyans and top Briton Andy Vernon.

Meanwhile, Mullingar's Martin Fagan is expected to run in the Houston Marathon on Sunday week and Ireland may yet have two men at that distance in next summer's World Championships after Alistair Cragg's confirmation this week that he is also hoping to get the marathon qualification for Daegu, South Korea.

Irish Independent