Irish middle-distance runner and multiple national record holder, Ciara Mageean, today announced she will no longer be participating in the upcoming European Indoor Athletic Championships “due to a few setbacks”.
The competition, which is set to take place in Poland from this Friday, has a large number of Irish athletes (24) expected to compete.
Mageean has decided to withdraw from the outing upon consultation with coach Steve Vernon in preparation for “the summer ahead” of the scheduled Tokyo Olympic Games.
Medalling at the 2019 European Indoors in the 1500m event, Mageean would have been a strong contender for an Irish medal in the upcoming championships.
2020 was a landmark year for Mageean who set two new records in the 800m and 1000m last summer. Mageean became the first Irish woman to run a sub 2-minute 800m before breaking Sonia O'Sullivan's 27-year-old 1000m record. The New Balance athlete started the season this year in fine form too, running a notable 8:54.66 in the 3000m.
Unfortunately, her performances have dipped from her usual high-standards and a major factor is understandably the passing of her former coach and close-friend Jerry Kiernan.
Speaking with Her Sport recently, the 28-year-old talked of her fondness for the athletics legend, expressing his importance in her life. In particular the Down women spoke of the aftermath of an injury she picked up while in college in UCD by saying “I probably wouldn’t have gotten through it without Jerry.”
There will be a few people who walk through your life and leave lasting footprints in your heart. Jerry Kiernan was one of those people. I feel truly blessed and privileged to have been able to call him my coach and friend.
Thank you Jerry, for everything. pic.twitter.com/FaxJPd27v0
— Ciara Mageean (@ciaramageean) January 21, 2021
“He basically brought me from not being able to walk to winning a European medal, running low four minutes and getting to the Olympic games” she says.
Speaking of an identity crisis that came with the low-point of that period in career, Mageean came to the realisation that “there’s more to [her] than athletics."
"I’m also in UCD studying physiotherapy and that’s a separate entity and something I can control. I want to do that and that’s for Ciara Mageean, not for Ciara the runner. And Jerry really helped me with that.”
On the It’s Just Sport podcast, Mageean also described the invaluable support and love that her friends, family, and the wider athletics community gave to her during her tough times as “huge” in her strive to get back to greatness after her struggle.
“Even if you’re not fulfilling that role that you usually did you’ll find those people are loving you for you, not just because you are good at doing a task” she says.
Although as a community the athletics world may be disappointed Mageean is not to make an appearance at the European Championships this weekend, her statement above has proved undoubtedly true due to the reaction on her original post with only adoration and hope for the future.
Attention now turns to preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. Set-backs have been a constant in Mageean's career and the athletics star is due a break after what has been a tough period.
It shows great bravery and responsibility from Mageean to publicise where she is at, at this moment in time. Undoubtedly, Mageean will come back from this stronger and will have the full support of the Irish nation.