Monday 11 December 2017

Britton cautious over treble bid

Fionnuala Britton
Fionnuala Britton

MARIE CROWE

The golden girl of Irish athletics, Fionnuala Britton, looks to make history this afternoon in Belgrade as she bids for an unprecedented third consecutive European cross-country title win.

But with six of last year's top-seven finishers in action today, Britton knows she has a tough challenge ahead.

"Just because I've won in the last two years, it doesn't mean anything once the race starts," said Britton yesterday.

Ireland's National Endurance Coach Chris Jones is also being cautious ahead of the race.

"No one around thinks that she can actually win this a third time," said Jones. "That's not being negative, that's the size of this challenge."

Britton's main competitors include Sophie Duarte of France who finished sixth in the European Championships in both 2011 and 2012.

Just last month she crossed the Wicklow woman's path at the Cross de l'Acier in France where Britton finished in seventh place, seven seconds behind Duarte.

She will also come face to face with her rival, Ana Dulce Felix. The European 10,000m champion finished second behind Britton in this race for the last two years.

They are only two of the athletes capable of challenging Britton for her title as she will also have to contend with Belgium's Almensh Belete, Italy's Nadia Ejjafini and of course Britain's Gemma Steele.

Although Britton had a disjointed summer season due to illness, she performed well in the recent Gerry Farnan and AAI Inter County Cross Country Championships taking gold in both races and is confident about her form.

"I just have to deal with what shape I'm in this year. You have to believe in yourself as well, because no one else is going to do it for me."

Sunday Independent

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