Wednesday 23 October 2019

Atheltics: Britton turns attention to Olympic glory as coach urges switch to flat

Cliona Foley

NOT content with qualifying for next summer's Olympics in the steeplechase, Ireland's latest athletics golden girl Fionnuala Britton is now going to try to do it on the flat.

The new European cross-country champion's coach Chris Jones revealed to the Irish Independent last night that his star athlete hopes to switch to the 5,000m or 10,000m in time for London 2012.

Britton (27) is already a world-class 3,000m steeplechaser -- she finished 12th over the barriers at the 2007 World Championships.

But Jones, who took over as her coach a year ago, said: "I really believe she should leave the steeplechase behind now.

"Fionnuala is best suited to a hard, sustained pace and the barriers in steeplechase just interrupt that. I believe she has much more to gain in sustained endurance events and has really great potential as a 5,000m or 10,000m runner.

"When things settle down we will be looking for the Olympic qualifying time in one of those distances next May."

At 5'2" Britton is small by the standards of international steeplechasing, which is dominated by taller, rangier athletes, many of whom have also switched from 1,500m running.

There has long been speculation that 10,000m could be Britton's ideal track event, and she confirmed that turning to the flat is now her firm plan.

"People have been telling me for years that I should switch," she said. "I already have the steeplechase standard for London but I will have to go now and try to get the standard for the flat."

Britton's European breakthrough has come after significantly altering her running style under Jones.

"I tended to over-stride but that is what we have been focusing on," she said of her considerably shortened stride this season, which has now paid such rich dividends.

see page 52

Irish Independent

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