"It's left scars with me personally" - Olympian Ciara Mageean on bouncing back from adversity

A Top 10 finish in the Diamond League this week was a return to form after a European Indoors final setback

Ciara Mageean, Ireland, Belgrade

Ireland's Ciara Mageean ©INPHO/Sasa Pahic Szabo

On June 8th, Ciara Mageean put in a performance that made Irish athletics fans sit up and take notice when she secured a Top 10 finish in an ultra competitive 1,500 metres race at a Diamond League meeting in Rome.

Facing some of the leading lights in distance running, it was an outstanding result for the 2016 Olympian, who had suffered a setback in March when she had to withdraw from a European Indoor Final due to an Achilles injury she was carrying. 

"To be honest, I was just lost," the Co Down athlete told Off The Ball as she looked back on the aftermath to that race.

"It's left scars with me personally after that but it's going to make me a stronger athlete long-term because I'm working to make sure that never happens again.

"Mentally, it's a very crushing thing because as an athlete, you've got to be tough, you have to be strong and even any sense of a weakness is not only perceived to others but even worse in your own head.

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"If other people seemed to think that I was sad, upset and confused there, it's only the tip of the iceberg to what I was feeling deep down. So it leaves long lasting memories and long lasting feelings towards the track. I hadn't overly worked too much with the sports science but after that Championships, I started working with [sports psychologist] Kate Kirby in the Institute and I sat down with Kate and Kate said, 'Let's just talk' and I talked her through what happened in the race and how I felt and we did simple exercises like 'Right, write down why you do athletics?' And 'Do you love athletics?'"

At the time, in the heat of the moment, Mageean revealed her response as "not overly" but that "whenever I said it, I knew it wasn't true" given her devotion to the sport and the "love of the thrill, of the chase and the competition".

Physically, she is back in good shape again after the injury, although she explains it as "an ongoing process" in terms of remaining near peak physical fitness, with the World Championships to come in London later this summer where she is targeting the final.

In the full interview, Mageean also discussed her road to the elite, working with coach Jerry Kiernan, as well as the issue of doping in athletics.