Magnificent Mageean sets Irish indoor 1,500m record
Ciara Mageean and Mark English played starring roles for the Irish at the Athlone IT International Grand Prix last night, rousing the midlands crowd with impressive victories and igniting hope of Irish medals at next month's European Indoor Championships in Glasgow.
Mageean smashed her own Irish Indoor 1,500m record, the 26-year-old clocking 4:06.76 to take victory and carve two seconds off the previous mark.
She unleashed a potent kick on the final lap to seal victory to a backdrop of raucous roaring, long-time leader Claudia Bobocea of Romania simply having no answer when the Portaferry athlete made her final surge with 200m to run.
"I'm delighted to come away with the win in front of the Irish crowd - it's all I could do to say thank you to them all," said Mageean, who coasted in third for much of the race before launching her decisive strike with 200m to run.
"My plan was to win, regardless of the clock."
English obliterated his rivals to win the men's 800m with a searing turn of speed.
Going to the line, there was a question mark surrounding the Donegal athlete's form, given he hadn't raced in several months, but it took just one minute, 46.92 seconds to issue his decisive answer.
He came home a wide-margin winner over USA's Erik Sowinki (1:47.64) and fellow Irishman Zak Curran (1:47.73).
"Training has been going really well but you never really know until you post a time how things are going so I'm delighted," said English, who has a renewed focus this winter: endurance.
"My long runs have been long and hard and that's given me a lot more fitness this year," he said.
"That showed after I hit 600 metres today; I could kick on with relative ease. I'm excited for European Indoors; I think I can go out and fight for a place in that final."
Thomas Barr unleashed his trademark flying finish in the men's 400m, but the line came a moment too soon for the Waterford sprinter, Barr closing with every stride on Dutch athlete Tony van Diepen but denied by inches, 47.01 to 47.05.
The consolation was that Barr's time is well inside the Athletics Ireland qualifying standard for the European Indoors (47.30), and that will be next on his agenda after this weekend's National Championships.
"Training is going really well," said Barr. "I feel like I can only get faster."