Britton puts foot down as Euros loom on horizon
Right now Fionnuala Britton looks capable of breaking records even if she was to run through quicksand.
For the past two years she has been victorious on the muddy fields of Europe and it was the same outcome when she stepped out on to the gleaming new synthetic track at Athlone IT yesterday for the Woodies DIY Irish Indoor Championships.
Despite all her successes, people have been wondering if Britton has the speed to ever win high-quality 1,500m races.
The appreciative crowd in the new world-class arena got their answer in the twinkling of an eye when she ran her opponents dizzy over the last three 200m laps to win the title going away with a sprint that would have done justice to a 400m runner.
"Once I got into full stride, I felt great and just seemed to get stronger and stronger over the last few laps," said the Wicklow woman, who is rapidly developing into a world-class star.
She looked fresh as a daisy after demolishing her lifetime best for the distance by five seconds with 4:13.96, having followed the pace set by Kerry Harty and Rose-Anne Galligan.
"I'm now really looking forward to the European Championships. I decided to follow the leaders for the opening laps before moving on and I felt this great sense of freedom out there in front.
"I will have another 3,000m in Stockholm on Wednesday night and that should be good."
The championships came to life midway through the afternoon when John Travers of Donore displayed determination and guts to win the 3,000m in a lifetime best of 7:58.55, which is inside the standard for a place in the Europeans.
"I felt that if I was serious about getting the standard then I had to push it from the gun," said the happy Dubliner.
Kelly Proper of Waterford was in superb form as she landed three gold medals – the 60m and then the long jump before returning to the track to win a hard 200m in super style in 23.84.
Derval O'Rourke's absence from the 60m hurdles was a disappointment after she aggravated a muscle in Birmingham on Saturday, but the event still produced plenty of excitement as young Sarah Lavin of Limerick won the title in 8.36 – a national junior record and a clear indication that she is capable of getting up to O'Rourke's standard in another couple of years.
Ailis McSweeney suffered frustration when she was eliminated from the final of the women's 60m after a false start and she later took to Twitter to air her frustration.
"Just home from @irishathletics indoors. Facility amazing, organisation poor in places, starting equipment a joke...," she tweeted.
Two fine races closed the programme, with top 400m Euro medal hope Brian Gregan moving down to the 200m to secure a strong victory in 21.33, while Mark English from Donegal looked a class act when taking the 800m in 1:48.83
The weekend got off to a flying start on the other side of the Atlantic when Cork-born Ciaran O'Lionaird ran the fourth fastest indoor time by an Irishman as he clocked 3:52.10 to finish third in the Wanamaker Mile in New York.
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