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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Athletics: No festive rest for busy Britton

Published 21/12/2012 | 05:00

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Fionnuala Britton. Photo: Sportsfile

Double European cross-country champion Fionnuala Britton is certainly not using Christmas as an excuse to rest on her laurels.

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The Kilcoole AC star is straight back into the thick of the action in Sunday's Lotto Cross Cup in Brussels, the third race on the IAAF cross-country circuit.

She is also set to lead Europe in their tussle with America and Great Britain in the Great Edinburgh Cross-Country on January 5, a race she won last year, and has also committed to the Antrim International in Belfast on January 12.

Britton's big focus for the new year will be the World Cross-Country Championships in Poland in March, where she will be looking to improve on her two previous top-20 finishes (14th in 2007 and 16th in 2011).

The Lotto Cross always attracts a top-class field and this year features three Kenyans and three Ethiopians, with Eleni Gebrehiwot the most dangerous.

The line-up also includes Belgium's ex-Ethiopian Almensh Belete, who finished fourth behind Britton in Budapest but may be better suited to Sunday's shorter 6km distance.

And also involved is Britain's Jess Coulson, the impressive U-23 champion in Budapest, who beat Britton this year in Spain.

The men's race in Brussels should also be good, featuring Italy's new European champion Andrea Lalli and France's U-23 champion Hassan Chahdi.

Elsewhere, DSD's David Gillick (29) is resigned to losing his 'carding' grant in 2013 after being injured for the last two years, and says his only issue is that the same standards must be applied consistently to all athletes.

"I can understand why I'm being cut, I don't fit into any of the criteria," said the two-time European indoor 400m champion, who was sixth in the 2009 World Championships.

"It'll be very tough to drop from €40,000 to nothing but I'll just get on with it. I was always going to keep running, that hasn't changed. The only issue I would have is if the rules are not applied consistently, the scheme has to be fair to everyone."

Several of his Loughborough training partners, including Martyn Rooney, have moved on or retired since the Olympics, but Gillick is soldiering on under coach Nick Dakin.

Commitment

After two years dogged by a recurring calf problem his commitment to recovering his world-class form is demonstrated by his current warm-weather training block at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, where he will spend Christmas. Gillick plans to return to Loughborough in late January and decide then where he will base himself in the coming year, and that could yet be Dublin.

Back home, there are 100 locations nationwide for the GOAL Mile on Christmas morning so check out your nearest venue on their website.

And this year's 'Irish Runner' annual is a particularly good stocking-filler, featuring Br Colm O'Connell and David Rudisha and an excellent 'Magnificent Seven' special on the young Irish to watch for in 2013.

Irish Independent

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