Ciara Mageean stumbled her way into tomorrow’s European 1500 metre indoor final on a difficult day for the Irish in Belgarde.
The 24-year-old Portaferry held control of her semi-final until the final lap and surprisingly stuttered over the line to fourth place, eventually qualifying as a fastest loser.
“I don’t like leaving something to chance” explained Mageean having confirmed her place in tomorrow’s 1500 metre final which gets under way at 6:45pm.
“That was a sitting on egg shells moment, yeah not as smooth as I wanted it to be, but the final is all that matters.”
Mageean progressed to the final as the slowest of the three fastest losers having posted four minutes 12.81 seconds just point 42 seconds behind winner Meraf Bahta of Sweden.
While Bhata took the lead just before the bell, causing Britain’s Sarah McDonald to move into second place with Mageean waiting to strike in the final stages.
Mageean’s finishing pace never fired as she stuttered down the home straight with Daryla Barysevich of Belarus taking third place in the final strides.
“It was kind of more a moment where I kept trying to run a smart race and not let somebody by so easily” explained Mageean.
Ciara Mageean says she was disappointed not to place in the top two in her European Indoor C'ships heat, but still advanced to the final pic.twitter.com/Izjf7KTOkP— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) March 3, 2017
“The pace injected a little, but maybe something wasn’t clicking right in that home straight so maybe that will hon me in more for the final.
Mageean will line out for the final at 6:45pm tomorrow Irish time and certainly has her work cut out to medal going by form.
Great Britain’s Laura Muir will be the bookies favourite for gold with Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui and Sweden’s Meraf Bhata expected to contest the medals.
Kerry O’Flaherty was unable to make any impression in her 1500 metre semi-final taking sixth place in a disappointing 4:23.82.
There was controversy for John Travers who stopped during his 1500 metre race, when it sounded like the starting gun had fired for a false start.
Travers and Spaniard Marc Alcala both stopped as the remaining five athletes race continued. Travers sprinted some 200 metres to re-join the group.
Neither were able to keep the pace and both finished in the final race places.
Ireland have lodged an appeal with regard to the race result which will be heard this evening.
Meanwhile, Brian Gregan admitted “feeling flat” after exiting the 400 metres at the semi-final stage finishing a disappointing sixth in 48.08 seconds, well done on his seasons best.
Gregan was ranked tenth in Europe going in the championships however never showed any of that spark having finished second in his opening heat earlier this morning.
Thomas Cotter also found the going a bit too hot as he bowed out, finishing his 3,000 metres semi-final in 8:15.85 and ninth place.
North Down hurdler Ben Reynolds bowed out of the 60 metre hurdles as he finished sixth in his first round race, posting 7.81 seconds.
The morning session started with disappointment for team Ireland with Sinead Denny and Phil Healy both bowing out of the 400 metre heats.
Denny finished fourth in heat one posting 54.20 seconds and missed out on one of the six fastest loser places by just point 17 seconds.
Phil Healy will focus on tomorrow’s 60 metre heats, having finished fourth in her heat posting 54.80 seconds, though was upgraded to third as France’s Floria Guei was disqualified.
23-year-old Zak Curran saw his Irish debut come to an end in the 800 metres heats. Surrey born Curran qualifies for Ireland via his mother from Tullamore, county Offaly.
Curran posted one minute 50.87 seconds for fourth in his heat having tired in the final lap, not enough to progress to the semi-finals.
Watch the action from the European Indoor Championships on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player tomorrow Saturday (7.30-8.10pm) and Sunday (3.15-6.55pm).