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Women in Sport

19th Aug 2022

“He’ll have the best seat in the house” – emotional Mageean pays tribute to late great Kiernan after the race of her life

Niall McIntyre

Ciara Mageean ran the best race of her life to win the silver medal in the European 1500m in Munich.

For a while, as she led from the gun and then stalked Laura Muir’s move at the bell, it looked like she might even take the gold but as she says herself, that’s for another day. And that day will come.

That being said, tonight is a night she will remember forever.

Having come up through the ranks as a youth and junior champion, as the second coming of Sonia O’Sullivan, Mageean has had pressure on her shoulders from a young age and there were times when that pressure got to her.

She’s had good days since, she’s had bad days too but this was her best ever day, as she ran bravely and brilliantly to win her third European medal. The last two were bronze but and this was her first silver.

It’s no surprise that, afterwards, the Down woman was emotional as she chatted to RTE’s David Gillick in the Olympic stadium.

“I rarely get emotional in athletics, but the year that I’ve had, I was going around there seeing all the tricolours and I’m feeling a little bit emotional, it’s absolutely fantastic” the 30-year-old said.

“I knew that it was going to be tough, I had Laura and Sophie in my mind. In my warm-up, I even visualised Laura going from there and when it happened, I just told myself to go with her, I told myself to be her shadow.

“I did exactly what myself and my coach said I would do, and I stayed a hell of a lot closer to her than I did in the Commonwealth games.

“I tried my best to stick to her, but Laura’s got the better of me on a good few occasions now.

“My time will come. This is what it’s all about. I know that I’m there, and I’ll keep trying for that gold, but to bring two silver medals home this summer, one for northern Ireland, one for Ireland,” she said then, before kissing the Irish tricolour.

“People ask you what you do it for, and all the hard work, and for me, it’s this, getting to share it with everyone. I know everyone back home in Portaferry is shouting at the screen and everyone in Ireland is doing the same, like they do for every Irish athlete.

“The team has done fantastic, Rhasidat, Israel, all those, they’re phenomenal. As one of the older Irish athletes on the team, I said I needed to show them that we can win medals and lead by example.

In what was a lovely touch then, Mageean paid tribute to all her coaches, past and present, including the late great Jerry Kiernan.

“Thanks to Helen (Clitheroe,) to Steve (Vernon,) to the late great Jerry Kiernan, he’ll have the best seat in the house, to my first coach Eamon Christie and to everyone that’s helped me along the way.”