Wednesday 13 December 2017

Athletics: Britton to lead Europe in Edinburgh cross-country

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

FIONNUALA BRITTON will open her new season by leading a European team at the star-studded Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross-Country tomorrow.

Three teams -- a European select team, a British side and a squad from Team USA -- will compete in the event.

This is the first year that there is no World Cross-Country Championships -- a race in which she has twice finished in the top 16 -- because that competition has now gone biennial.

Edinburgh is the first of three high-profile races in as many weeks for Ireland's new European Cross-Country champion Britton, as she has also signed up for another IAAF race in Seville on Sunday week and then the Antrim International on January 21.

The Wicklow woman (right) has already qualified for the steeplechase at the London Olympics, but she has been persuaded by coach Chris Jones to try to get the standard for the 5,000m or 10,000m and Brendan Foster, who won 5,000m gold at the 1974 European Championships, believes the longer distances, on the flat, will suit her.

The European men's team for Edinburgh includes Joe Sweeney and Mark Hanrahan and after coming so close to a medal in the European Championships in December, Sweeney, who finished a creditable 10th in this event last year, will be hoping to do even better this time around.

The field for the men's invitation 3,000m includes defending champion and Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Eliud Kipchoge, three Olympic champions in Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele (10,000m/5,000m) and Kenyan pair Asbel Kiprop (1,500m) and Brimin Kipruto (steeplechase) as well as European 1,500m champion Arturo Casado (Spain).

Donore's John Travers and the Mulhare brothers from North Laois AC, Michael and Dan, will also compete.

Elsewhere, Irish athletics fans will be particularly interested in Monday's TV documentary 'Man On A Mission' (Setanta Sports Ireland, 9.30), which covers Eamon Coghlan's trip to meet Br Colm O'Connell at his world-class training base in Kenya last summer.

The Patrician brother from Cork has coached numerous world and Olympic champions and the programme includes an interview and exclusive training footage of his latest superstar, David Rudisha.

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