Rio 2016: Ciara Mageean eases into 1,500m semi-finals

Heat winner Genzebe Dibaba is followed by Ireland's Ciara Mageean at the Olympic Stadium
Heat winner Genzebe Dibaba is followed by Ireland's Ciara Mageean at the Olympic Stadium

Ciara Mageean finished an impressive second in her 1,500m heat at the Olympic Games to comfortably qualify for Sunday's semi-finals in Rio.

The European bronze medallist from Portaferry clocked 4:11.51 to come in behind Ethiopia's world record holder Genzebe Dibaba (4:10.61).

Mageean, 24, stayed close to the lead throughout the race and moved into second place as Dibaba sprinted clear.

The Irish athlete was able to ease up close to the line in a confident run.

Those behind Mageean in the remaining four qualifying places included highly-rated America Brenda Martinez and Poland's Angelika Cichocka, who won gold at this year's European Championships when the Irishwoman took the bronze.

Non-qualifiers from the heat included Dutchwoman Maureen Koster, Morocco's Siham Hilali and Kenya's Nancy Chepkwemoi who all have faster personal bests than Mageean.

"If I didn't think I'd qualify, I wouldn't be here," said the county Down woman.

Mageean said that she had drawn inspiration from Ireland's silver medal-winning rowing brothers Paul and Gary O'Donovan.

"It was great to see them medal and gives more motivation to perform at this level. I ran my own race and I just need to stay focused for the semi-finals."

Earlier in the day Alex Wright (Leevale) battled to a 46th place finish in the 20km race walk in 1:25:25.

"I was slightly disappointed with that but my training is geared towards the 50km and there were positives," said Wright, who will also compete in the 50km event on Friday.

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