Ciara Mageean still has a point to prove at the Commonwealth Games and is poised to strike after winning her 1500m heat to sail into Sunday’s final.
Mageean, 30, clocked 4:13.52 to finish just over two tenths ahead of Scotland’s Laura Muir, the Olympic silver medallist and strong favourite who jogged through in fifth.
The two-time European medallist was Northern Ireland’s athletics captain on the Gold Coast in 2018 but could only muster a disappointing 13th after taking 10th at Delhi 2010 as a teenager in her first senior international competition.
Mageean said: “I’m happy with that. The aim was to get through to the final, so the job is done.
“I have a medal chance and I’m taking confidence in that, and I feel I have unfinished business at the Commonwealth Games.
“I was disappointed to not do better last time. I was a wee youngster at my very first one and then I had a rocky second Commonwealth Games, so I feel like I’m in the best place ever for this one.
“The aim is to get gold - let Laura [Muir] know!”
This summer, Team Northern Ireland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise of over 100 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Mageean has experience in her corner with new coach Helen Clitheroe having won bronze in the same event for England 20 years ago.
The Portaferry runner has put a torrid time with injury, tearing her calf twice in the last year, behind her and arrived in Birmingham in good touch after two fourth-place Diamond League finishes.
And with plenty of support in the bouncing Alexander Stadium, Mageean is hoping to finally deliver her best on the Commonwealth stage.
She added: “I know my speed is there and I’ve put one of the best blocks of training in with my new coach Helen.
“It’s lovely to have her expertise as she has been to many a Commonwealth Games.
“The crowd is phenomenal here in Birmingham, I’m taken aback. I don’t know if I’ve ever run-in front of such an amazing crowd so I'm looking forward to final day.”
Megan Marrs set her sights on breaking Northern Ireland’s 100m hurdles record after failing to make the Commonwealth Games final.
Marrs clocked a season’s best of 13.37 but it was not enough to make it out of a heat won by England’s Cindy Sember.
However, the 24-year-old said she can take plenty of positives having clipped two hurdles and still posted a time within a tenth of the record.
She said: “I was nervous hence I’m not usually one to hit hurdles but when I did, I recovered well so I can’t complain with that, I’m happy.
“It’s a huge season’s best by over two tenths of a second. If I’m hitting two hurdles and I’m less than a tenth away at 10 in the morning, it’s time to find a few more races.
“I’m definitely not going to finish the season now because I know that Northern Ireland record is there.”
Marrs was hoping for a big performance after finally shaking off the Achilles and hamstring problems that plagued her following the world indoors where she represented Great Britain earlier this year.
She explained: “I was expecting that because my training has been going well over the past few weeks, I’m back running pain free which is the big thing because I haven’t done that since April.
“It was deafening down there when Cindy and I were introduced. I think it’s a once in a lifetime experience to have this sort of major on your doorsteps and I just loved every minute.”
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