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Page last updated at 21:36 GMT, Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Ciara Mageean aiming for another medal at Euro Cross

John Haughey
BBC NI Sport

Ciara Mageean and Eamonn Christie
Mageean (right) has been invited to compete in next month's Millrose Games

Ciara Mageean hopes to round off a remarkable 2010 by clinching another major medal at this weekend's European Cross Country in Albufeira.

Mageean, 18, won a superb 1500m silver at this year's World Junior Championships and reached the metric mile final at the Commonwealth Games.

With Sunday's course expected to be hard and fast, Mageean is being tipped to challenge for a junior medal.

"Hopefully it will go well and I might be able to win a medal," she said.

"Training has been going well and I'll be hoping to improve on my ninth place last year.

"I go into every race trying to win. I'm feeling good and I don't feel in any way drained despite the long season."

Irish athletics watchers have been fully aware of Mageean's talents for several years but her World Junior silver medal in Canada brought her to the attention of the wider track and field world.

The Portaferry girl was the only non-African to win a medal in Moncton in the middle and long distance events in both male and female competition.

People see me as a track athlete so a fast course in Portugal should be good for me

Ciara Mageean

A measure of that increasing profile is the invitation to the famed Millrose Games indoor meeting at Madison Square Garden next month which recently arrived in Mageean's email inbox and the youngster is already looking forward to striding on boards made famous by her legendary compatriot Eamonn Coghlan.

"I'm really looking forward to that. I haven't had too many indoor races, just at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast and a few races over in England," adds Ciara.

Indeed, coach Eamonn Christie says Mageean's winter campaign could end with a tilt at the European Indoors in Paris during March which would be another opportunity to mix it with some world-class senior athletes.

But first things first, there is a European Junior Cross Country title to be fought for this weekend and with a team medal for the Irish not out of the question either.

"People see me as a track athlete so a fast course in Portugal should be good for me, rather than running through mud - although I always say that the conditions are the same for everyone.

"We have a fantastic team of girls so hopefully we might be able to bring home a team medal as well."

Britain's Charlotte Purdue
Charlotte Purdue is expected to be among Mageean's rivals on Sunday

Russian Gulshat Fazlitdinova, who took junior women's silver in Dublin 12 months ago, is in the Albufeira field and could be the athlete to beat.

Eamonn Christie also reckons that Britain's Charlotte Purdue will be in contention after impressively winning the UK trials recently.

Purdue's team-mate Kate Avery took individual bronze 12 months ago but hasn't quite been at her best over the country in recent outings.

Other contenders could be Germany's Corinna Harrer and Italy's Federica Bevilacqua who both finished ahead of Mageean at Santry last year while Serbian Amela Terzic and Austria's Jennifer Wenth may also be in the medal mix.

"The way I would sum up Ciara's chances is top five but with a good medal shout," says Christie.

As ever, the composed Mageean is not getting too wound up about the opposition.

"I don't really look at opponents before races. In track races, you can compare PBs but cross country is different and every course is different.

"Everybody has a different approach and it depends on how you feel on the day.

"In cross country I just step out on the course and keep my eye on the leader."

I'm thinking that staying at home is going to suit me better. Don't change if it isn't broken

Ciara Mageean

After doing her A-Levels in the summer, Mageean is currently on a well deserved year out from study after "three very hectic years".

The likelihood is that she will go the university next autumn in either Ireland or Britain despite the numerous collegiate offers that she has had from the US.

"I'm thinking that staying at home is going to suit me better. Don't change if it isn't broken.

"This is working well for me at the minute and I see it working well for me in the future.

"It's been nice to have the bit of time to relax over the last few months.

"I've had a bit of time to think about my future and it's given me the chance to plan things.

"I've got a bit of time to chill at the moment because everybody else is getting ready for exams after Christmas."

She's certainly earned that little bit of respite.

see also
Mageean wins Inter-Counties title
28 Nov 10 |  Athletics
AAI honour Mageean and Christie
14 Nov 10 |  Athletics
Houvenaghel seals cycling silver
08 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Mageean won't fear Delhi rivals
03 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Mageean set to run 1500 in Delhi
04 Aug 10 |  Athletics
Mageean second in Junior final
25 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Mageean leaning towards gap year
15 Jun 10 |  Athletics
Marvel Mageean
08 Dec 09 |  Athletics

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