Ciara Mageean primed for 1,500m showdown of her life

‘Now I’m in another global final. I’m excited to go out here and see what I’m made of’

In the now 40-year-long conversation around Irish medal winners on the track at the World Championships – not forgetting the race walks, naturally – few have felt more primed and or indeed ready than Ciara Mageean.

Four years on from making her first outdoor global final in Doha, where she finished tenth behind Sifan Hassan and a Dutch runaway victory, Mageean is back on that track inside the National Athletics Stadium in Budapest, Hungary, on Tuesday evening (8.30pm Irish time) in the women’s 1,500m final. Primed, ready and waiting.

“I definitely feel like I’m a different athlete than I was in Doha,” Mageean says. “Making that final was a really big deal whereas I came into these championship with the lowest aim of making the final. Now that I’m there I’m excited to go out there.

“I do feel I’ve taken a step up even from the season last year. I really wanted to use that as a kind of leap forward into this year, and I feel I’ve done that, had a fantastic season up until now. Now I’m in another global final. I’m excited to go out here and see what I’m made of.”


Mageean goes in ranked sixth fastest on lifetime bests among the 12-runner final, the runaway and standout favourite being Olympic and World champion and recent world record holder Faith Kipyegon from Kenya. Unless she trips and falls the gold medal is already around her neck.

“I knew the race is going to go one of two ways, someone string it out, or someone make it choppy,” says Mageean. “I’m prepared for both types of races, so whenever I find myself in the bunch like that, I just say ‘stay calm, you have three and three-quarter laps to play with here’. Ultimately it all comes down to the last 200m in a 1,500m.

“Whenever you’re in it you have to run the race that’s in front of you. And you don’t know what kind of hand you’re going to be dealt. Sometimes something unfolds in front of you that you just couldn’t have planned before. No matter what shape you’re in. I personally just feel that I am ready for anything that unfolds, and just feel to have plenty of types of racing in my arsenal.

“I’ve been competitive on the Diamond League circuit. That’s a reflection on the world stage and the 1,500m, and so if I can do it on the Diamond League circuit I want to be able to come out and prove myself on the international stage.”

Along with those two previous champions in Kipyegon and Hassan she faces a daunting Ethiopian duo of Birke Haylom and Diribe Welteji. At this stage of her career the 31-year-old Mageean is focused entirely on her own race.

“Do I still get nervous?” she asks back. “If I got into a world 1,500m final without being nervous I think it’s time to hang up the spikes. I just feel confident off the back of what I’ve done. For me it’s really about grasping every opportunity, and I feel this is a fantastic place to be. I am very nervous going in – it may not appear that way but I’d say every athlete who toes the line is.

“Personally just feel that I am ready for anything that unfolds and just feel to have plenty of types of racing in my arsenal. I’m going just race the race that goes right there. To be honest I’ve got a few ideas of what way the race would go. I can see it being a very fast time, and I would be running to win a medal out there, and I hope that I can go out there and do myself proud.

“If I step off that track and when I give everything I have because that’s all I can do and be happy with that. But I always felt that I belonged there. The past season I’ve had has certainly put away the doubts in my head, and yeah, I’m finally here in a place that I belong – on the world stage.”


17:40 - Women’s 100m hurdles – Heats (Sarah Lavin)

18:20 - Men’s 800m – Heats (Mark English, John Fitzsimons)

18:55 - Men’s high jump - Final

19:20 - Women’s discus throw - Final

19:25 - Women’s 400m hurdles - Semi-final

20:00 - Men’s 400m hurdles - Semi-final

20:30 - Women’s 1500m - Final

20:42 - Men’s 3000m steeplechase - Final

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics