Monday 20 May 2019

Fionnuala Britton adds to medal haul with European bronze

Cliona Foley

TWO-TIME European Cross Country champion Fionnuala Britton added to her growing medal haul and reputation by winning 3000m bronze at the European Indoor championships in Gothenburg today.

The tiny Wicklow woman was involved in a dramatic race that began with a rare false-start which saw officials forced to run onto the track after 150m metres to stop the field because the runners could not hear the start-gun sounding a second and third time.


But the finale, after a nailbiting tactical battle, was even more dramatic, and saw the Kilcoole heroine involved in a phenomenal three-way tussle for the minor medals over the final 50m.


Portugal's Sara Moreira was already clear of the field and took the gold in 8:58.50 but there was a magnificent battle behind her.


Britton was fourth at the bell but came back strongly to pass Yelena Korobkina on the back straight to move into third.


But the Russian came back past her at the penultimate bend before the two of them started reeling in second-placed German Corinna Harrer and then there was a terrific three-way medal battle between them as they all dipped for the line together.


Harrer held on for silver in 9:00.50 and Britton and Korobkina had to wait for an agonising few seconds before the results came up on the scoreboard.


But when they did it confirmed that the Wicklow star had nicked bronze in 9:00.54, by a margin of just five hundredths of a seconds.


Rarely one to celebrate she broke into a beaming smile and ran over to her friends in the stand to celebrate.


"When I got past the Russian I thought I'm going to get third here and when she passed by me again I  thought 'no way, I'm not coming fourth!


"Then when we all sprinted for it (the line) I thought I might get second, so there's a little disappointment there that I didn't take silver but then I could have come fourth!" she pointed out with a smile.


"In a way you could say I took a bit of a gamble doing indoors before the World Cross Countries (at the end of the month) and if I'd come away seventh or ninth you would have said what was the point"


"But I came away with a medal and it's not easy to get any medal so you take what you can get'" she said.


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