Ciara Mageean runs brave race but misses out on Olympic final spot
Ciara Mageean's bid for a place in the women's 1,500m final at the Rio Olympics fell short in the early hours of this morning.
While the 24-year-old Portaferry girl ran a gusty race, finishing just outside her personal best, she had nothing to give at the business end as she was passed by all but one of the field in the closing 200 metres.
The semi-final was won by Kenyan Faith Kipyegon in 4:03.95; McMageean finished 11th in 4:08.07, two hundredths of a second shy of her seasonal best.
The European 1500m bronze medallist was battling against the odds even before the race began. All but one of the field had run faster than her over the distance, while all of them had run faster this season.
But Mageean, who recovered from a career threatening heel spur injury, is nothing if not a brave competitor and she actually led the field in the opening 300 metres. One suspects she would have preferred a less prominent role at that stage of the semi-final.
However, nobody was interested in setting the pace and the first lap was covered in a pedestrian 69 seconds. While the second lap was run three seconds faster, when the girls reached the 800m mark in 2.15.65 it was evident that there was going to be a hectic finish.
Mageean was still fifth, though she was running in an outside lane probably in an effort not to get caught in traffic. Ultimately, Kipyegon didn't make her move until the bell. But when she injected some serious pace into the race the field quickly spread out.
Going down the back straight Mageean – bidding to become the first Irish female athlete to reach the Olympic 1500m final – was still in the hunt but she had nothing left to give once she hit the penultimate bend and trailed home second last.
Overall though, given her injury problem, she can he satisfied with her debut Olympics. Sonia O'Sullivan also finished 11th in the semi-final of the 1500m on her Olympic debut in Barcelona in 1992 and went on to achieve great things in her career. Provided she stays injury, Mageean can make her mark too.