Sunday 23 October 2016

Fionnuala McCormack opens 2016 season with second place as Mo Farah tastes defeat in Edinburgh

Cathal Dennehy

Published 09/01/2016 | 15:57

Fionnuala McCormack
Fionnuala McCormack

Fionnuala McCormack opened her 2016 campaign with a strong second-place finish at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country today, coming home in 21:09, four seconds behind race winner Kate Avery of Britain.

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McCormack led for much of the first half of the race, but Avery took command on the third of four laps, opening a lead that McCormack simply couldn’t claw back in the closing stages.

“It’s not a bad place to start,” said McCormack. “It was tough. I ended up at the front almost by accident. It’s cross country, so it doesn’t tell you too much [about your fitness] in one way, but it’s a nice place to start the year. The cross country season went pretty well given where I was coming from.”

McCormack, who secured the qualifying standard for the Olympic Games when running 2:33:15 at the Chicago Marathon in recent months, will next race at the IAAF Antrim International Cross Country on Saturday, January 16 before once again turning her attention to the roads.

Lizzie Lee finished ninth in the senior women’s race yesterday in 21:51, helping Europe to a decisive victory over Great Britain and the USA in the team event.

In the senior men’s 8000m race, Mo Farah tasted defeat on his first outing of 2016, the double Olympic champion finding American Garrett Heath too strong on the final lap.

“When Garrett went, I just couldn’t respond,” said Farah. “I don’t want to lose, but better to lose now than in August. This can be a good thing. It gives you motivation.”

In the mixed 4x1km relay, the Irish quartet of John Travers, Laura Crowe, Eoin Everard and Kerry O’Flaherty teamed up to finish third in 11:44, with Scotland taking the win in 11:34 and Great Britain second in 11:43.

In the junior men’s race, Clare’s Kevin Mulcaire led the European team home with a second-place finish, but found Great Britain’s Alex Yee too strong over the final lap. Jack O’Leary finished sixth and was the fourth scorer for the European team.

Ireland’s Shona Heaslip was victorious in the women’s under-23 Celtic race, edging Scotland’s Mhairi McLennan in a sprint finish.

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