Ciara Mageean: Portaferry athlete to use European Indoor as 'stepping stone' to Tokyo

Mageean says the European Indoor Championships are part of "building the foundations" for her Olympics challenge
Mageean says the European Indoor Championships are part of "building the foundations" for her Olympics challenge

Ciara Mageean has said she hopes to "hone my racing prowess" at the European Indoor Championships before preparing for the Olympics Games.

The Indoor Championships begin in Poland on 5 March with the rescheduled Tokyo Games to start on 23 July.

Mageean began the year impressively with a 3,000m indoor victory in Manchester earlier this month.

"There are little stepping stones along the way [to Tokyo]," the Portaferry athlete told The John Toal Show.

"My immediate focus is getting ready for the European Indoor Championships which, all being well, are going ahead in Poland at the beginning of March.

"That's my main focus. I've had a fantastic winter training block. My coach likes to refer to it as building the foundations or the bottom layer of a cake.

The 28-year-old added: "I'm going to race the Indoors, which is going to be like the little cream layer on the inside, where I start honing my racing prowess again.

"Then hopefully I will be going away on altitude training camps in the lead-up to the Olympic Games.

"I will hopefully have two camps and then drop down into the Olympic Games. There are a lot of stepping stones along the way - I'll have races to along the way to help me sharpen up."

Olympics postponement a 'blessing in disguise'

Mageean also admitted that the Tokyo Games' postponement was a "blessing in disguise" as she used it as an opportunity to "close the gap" on the athletes who beat her at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, where she finished 10th in the 1,500m final.

Mageean has since broken two Irish records, becoming the first Irishwoman to clock under two minutes for 800m before breaking Sonia O'Sullivan's 27-year-old Irish 1,000m record during an impressive summer campaign.

"When lockdown came, obviously there was huge disappointment that races weren't going ahead," said Mageean, who landed a bronze medal in the 1,500m final of the 2019 European Indoor Championships.

"We continued to train as if it was going to happen because you have to prepare for all eventualities.

Mageean broke two Irish records during an impressive summer showing in 2020
Mageean broke two Irish records during an impressive summer showing in 2020

"When the Olympics were cancelled, I was surprisingly not crazily disappointed because I thought 'it's been postponed for a year and I came 10th at the World Championships in Doha that summer prior.

"I came 10th and I wanted to be higher up the field in that and the Olympic Games. I really saw this year as an opportunity to close that gap on the girls further up the field and give me an opportunity to get stronger, faster and fitter because it's not something that can happen overnight.

"Fitness and development in athletics takes time, it takes years really so I really saw it as a blessing in disguise.

"I'm seeing it as a positive. I've had a fantastic year of training and ran two national records over the summer, which showed that I'm in good shape.

"All being well, the Olympics will go ahead this summer and I'll be in good stead to go out and fly that Irish flag."

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