By Will Downing
Ciara Mageean has qualified for August’s World Athletics Championships in London, by dipping well inside the IAAF qualifying standard for the 1500m at tonight’s Golden Gala Diamond League meeting in Rome.
Mageean - European Championship bronze-medallist last summer in Amsterdam in the run-up to the Rio Olympics – finished tenth at the Stadio Olimpico in 4:04.49, putting her well inside the IAAF qualifying mark of 4:07.50.
The Portaferry athlete kept a solid rhythm throughout and looked determined to run her own race, despite the track being burned up at the front by the woman who pipped Mageean for silver in Amsterdam by 0.02 seconds, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.
Hassan smashed the five-year-old Golden Gala meeting record of Ethiopian Abeba Aregawi by storming through in 3:56.22 – also a new world lead, three seconds inside the previous mark set in Shanghai last month by Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon.
Like Mageean, the Dutch athlete was competing in her first 1500m race of the year, and sent out a signal of potentially big things to come from her later this summer.
The European champion from Zurich 2014, and currently the reigning world indoor champion, Hassan was three seconds ahead of the rest, with Winny Chebet of Kenya taking second in a personal best 3:59.16.
In third, Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen took a whopping 7.5 seconds off her lifetime best, clocking 3:59.30.
In all, six athletes set new PBs in this race alone, and though Mageean was three seconds outside her lifetime best set in Paris the week after her disappointing Olympics exit, the most important prize she was seeking in Rome tonight was that qualifying time.
Mageean is currently second on the all-time Irish 1500m list behind Sonia O’Sullivan, but will be aiming for a new Irish record over 800m at the inaugural Sligo City Sports later this month.
The 25-year-old is ranked fourth all-time over the two-lap distance, but her PB of 2:00.79 is just a shade outside Rose-Anne Galligan’s Irish record of 2:00.58 from the London Diamond League meeting of 2013.