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Mageean gears up for track season

By Nikki Gregg
BBC Sport NI

Ciara Mageean
Mageean is emerging as Ireland's best junior since Sonia O'Sullivan

Fresh from victory in Saturday's All-Ireland Schools championships at Jordanstown, Ciara Mageean is aiming to transfer her cross country success onto the track this summer.

The 17-year-old will run the 800m at the World Youth Championships in Italy in early July before competing in the 1500m at the European Youth Olympics in Finland later that month.

"It's been a tremendous season so far and I'm in good shape," says the Portaferry teenager.

"My training sessions have been getting harder and I feel I've been handling them pretty well.

"When you're enjoying it, it's easier to get through. I just try to keep my sights on the next race and not dream too far ahead."

That pragmatic approach is certainly paying off for the youngster who is reckoned by many athletics pundits to be Ireland's most impressive junior prospect since Sonia O'Sullivan.

Last month the City of Lisburn athlete successfully defended her Irish indoor title over 1500m with an assured display at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast.

Having claimed the scalps of seasoned campaigners, Mageean is just as fearless in her attitude to dealing with the growing expectations around her.

"As people expect you to win the more pressure's on your shoulders but that's a good thing.

I love being part of a team
Ciara Mageean

"It helps you to be more motivated going into the race. It drives you forward even more."

No longer an unknown quantity, the teenager, who is coached by Eamon Christie, tasted success on the international stage last year with a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in India.

She admits that the Irish athletes will face a stern test in Finland this summer.

"We're such a small country in comparison to the other nations so it can be hard to select a squad that will compete right across the board.

"But coming up through the age groups, I've found that we do produce really talented athletes here. Hopefully that will continue and the team will deliver good results."

The team environment is something Mageean savours.

Although a strict training schedule leaves only one free day a week, the sporting all-rounder continues to play camogie at school and county level.

"It can be quite lonely in athletics, especially at training sessions when I'm on my own a lot of the time.

"I love being part of a team. Someone's always there watching your back. It's a great sense of achievement when we win."

see also
Ohuruogu beaten in Irish Indoors
08 Feb 09 |  Athletics
Mageean takes 17th in Europeans
14 Dec 08 |  Athletics
NI claim six more medals in Pune
15 Oct 08 |  Northern Ireland
Mageean is 10th in World Juniors
13 Jul 08 |  Athletics
Mageean ready for World Juniors
07 Jul 08 |  Athletics
Mageean and McIlroy claim titles
27 Jan 08 |  Athletics

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