Ciara Mageean burns high class field with blistering kick around the bend
Lockdown certainly didn't do Ciara Mageean any harm.
Running in her first race back since track and field's enforced shut-down, the Down athlete hit the ground running with a personal best and an Irish record for 800m.
A relatively low-key meet in Switzerland is a long way from the Tokyo Olympics, which were due to begin on Friday, but Mageean has kept the head down in an altitude training camp in Switzerland, and is now the first ever Irish woman to break the two minute barrier for 800m, with her time of 1.59.69.
Mageean's previous personal best for the event was 2.00.79 but this jump sees her overtake Newbridge athlete Rose-Anne Galligan as Ireland's fastest ever female 800m runner.
Irish Record and the first Irish woman ever to go under 2 minutes in the 800m.
I am absolutely delighted. With the disappointment of everything this year, Olympics postponed and lockdown for months, my coach, my team mates and I put our heads down and worked hard.
— Ciara Mageean (@ciaramageean) July 24, 2020
What makes Mageean's record-run even more impressive is the fact that her best event is generally considered to be the 1500m, but versatility has never been a problem for the former camogie player, who has represented Ireland with distinction in cross country, in track and field and in indoor races.
Last year, the 28-year-old finished tenth in the world 1500m final in Doha and for now, all eyes are on this time next year when the Tokyo Olympics are due to take place.
"I am absolutely delighted. With the disappointment of everything this year, Olympics postponed and lock-down for months, my coach, my team mates and I put our heads down and worked hard," Mageean tweeted.
"(I'm) Devastated I won't run for Ireland this year but I'll continue to work and build on this for 2021 and beyond. Only the beginning of the few races I'll run this season but I'm so grateful for the support of my coach, team mates and everyone back home."
You can watch the final lap of Mageean's run here, where some distinguished opponents had absolutely no answer for her blistering kick with 200 metres to go.
— Cathal Dennehy (@Cathal_Dennehy) July 24, 2020
After the race, Irish legend Sonia Sullivan commended Mageean on her performance and encouraged her to back herself this year.
Congratulations @ciaramageean first Irish woman sub 2mins for 800m . 2020 is a year to back yourself and just go for it #backyourself #makeitcount @irishathletics @RTEsport @gregallenRTE pic.twitter.com/FzLFeEx1CF
— sonia osullivan (@soniaagrith) July 24, 2020