IRELAND’S double European cross-country champion Fionnuala Britton has given herself a great chance of adding a European indoor medal to her growing honours after comfortably qualifying for the 3000m final in Gothenburg today.
In what was only Britton’s 10th indoor race ever, and her first in a major championship, the Kilcool star had no trouble sticking with the pace set by former European silver medallist Sarah Moreira (Portugal) in the first heat.
With four to qualify automatically she was already safe with three laps left as part of a three-woman breakaway that the rest of the field couldn’t catch.
Moreira won in 9:01.00 and Britain’s Lauren Howarth got up to pip Britton on the line, with both clocked at 9:03.30 in a heat that was just marginally faster than the second.
Britton originally only used the indoor season as part of her preparations for the World Cross Countries at the end of this month but confirmed afterwards that, now that she has a chance of a medal she will be going full-blooded for it.
“I got what I wanted out of that today, I was only looking for a top four,” she said after carefully conserving her energy for tomorrow’s final (11.10 Irish time).
“Now that I’m in the final I’m going to give it a real go,” she admitted. “I’ll have to go back now and see how I’ll go about that, I had to just focus first today on getting through.
“I will probably have to run a personal best to win a medal,” she admitted. “But no one has really run that fast this year so I’m focussing on the positives.”
Russia’s Natalya Aristakhova won the other heat in 9:02.61, with Germany’s Corrina Harrer and Belgium’s Almensch Belete among the top three.
Azerbaijan’s Laes Abdullaeva, an ex-Ethiopian who was among the medal threats, noticeably dropped out of that injured so it’s likely that the medal will be decided tomorrow between today’s fastest six.
There was good news too for City of Lisburn sprinter Amy Foster, who equalled her personal best of 7.33 seconds when fifth in her 60m heat.
That left her 13th fastest overall and clinched the Ulster flier a place (in lane two) in tomorrow's second semi-final at 15.37 Irish time.