"My passion was camogie, athletics was going to be kicked to the curb" 3 years ago

"My passion was camogie, athletics was going to be kicked to the curb"

Growing up, Ciara Mageean's dreams were of All-Stars, All-Ireland medals and lining out in Croke Park.

She could run all day. Knew that from an early age but back then there was always a ball involved.


Camogie legends were the ones she looked up to. Her aunt Edel Mason and Leitrim's Maureen McAleenan were the players she wanted to be. But Mageean was up for any kind of sporting challenge and when the chance presented itself in secondary school, she didn't think twice about running a few laps of a field.

"Whenever I went to secondary school, my PE teacher up in Assumption Ballynahinch was like 'she just never stops, would you like to try cross country?' So I jumped at the chance of getting out of class and getting mucky," she said in a brilliant interview on Play X Play with Niamh Maher.


"I think it was in third year that I won the districts out of the blue. The girl who came second was a well known good runner who ran for Ulster and Northern Ireland and they were like 'who's this wee girl?'


"Then I joined a coach. The PE teacher asked me did I want to try track and that was where it was all born really because I'm a much better track athlete than cross country. So whenever I got onto the track, I think that's when people realised, 'this wee girl can run."

And it would take something special to stop her. A prodigy from then on, Mageean would went onto collect national titles for sport before winning a European Youth Championship as an under-18 in 2009.

"I didn't do athletics. My passion was camogie and I swore I wasn't going to give it up, athletics was going to be kicked to the curb. Until I realised the potential I had in athletics and a big thing for me was that I could represent Ireland," she said.


Mageean has done so with distinction ever since. The same year, she'd go onto win silver in the World Youth championships.

Ten years on and she'd be breaking her PB on the world stage, finishing tenth in the fastest women's 1500 mt race ever ran. In that sense, it might come as a surprise that Mageean was slightly disappointed coming off the Doha track last Saturday night, but when you consider the competitive nature that fuels this athlete, and the history of success she's grown up on, you begin to realise that it's this insatiable appetite made her so successful in the first place.

"I was a little disappointed, I'm not going to lie. I was disappointed to come tenth, that's the racer in me, that's the athlete in me. There was a little bit of 'I want to be further up.'


"I know that in the shape that I'm in, I could have run sub four. If I was in a race that was paced, I feel like I could run a 3.58, and that's so exciting..."

Bring on Tokyo 2020.

The question marks exist - don't doubt it for a second - about the scalding pace of that 1500 mt race, especially given the doping clouds that currently loom large over athletics, but Mageean has her own aims, targets and goals. And she won't be happy with herself until she's reached them.

"It's something that there's a question mark over for a lot of people and that's tough. That's tough for me to feel stepping off the track. But I also look at the other girls, like Shelby who came fourth in 3.54. She had tears in her eyes coming off that track. To miss out on a medal and to run that fast is ridiculous...I believe in those athletes and I believe that they're no better than me..."

Just a wee girl from Portaferry. But that wee girl was always destined for big things.


You can listen to the full Ciara Mageean chat from this week's Play X Play here.