Saturday 16 December 2017

Fionnuala Britton aiming to fast-track European qualification

Fionnuala Britton
Fionnuala Britton

Athletics Cliona Foley

FIONNUALA Britton is hoping to get the 10,000m qualifying time for this summer's European Championships in a unique event in London tomorrow night.

She is racing in Highgate Harriers' 'Night of PBs' which is an interesting initiative started last year to try to improve the quality of 10,000m track running in Britain.

Mo Farah may be the double Olympic champion at 5,000/10,000m but our near neighbours are equally worried that, despite the boom in road-running, the standard and numbers involved in long distance on the track has dropped substantially.

The event is this club's bid to provide something similar to California's Stanford meeting on home soil.

It is designed to help runners produce the fastest times of their lives over 25 laps, and pacemakers, and motivational music are all part of the experience on Hampstead Heath.

Such was the success of Highgate's meeting last year that British Athletics have now incorporated their national 10,000m championships into it, and it's also doubling up this weekend as the UK senior and U-23 trials for this summer's European Championships.

It's Britton's first track race this year and the two-time European cross-country champion is keen to qualify for the Europeans as quickly as possible. Athletics Ireland's 'A' qualifying standard for the European Championships in Zurich in August is 28:35 for men and 32:15 for women.

AAI will only accept European 'B' standards for 'development athletes' (those on the development list for carding). Maria McCambridge, Sarah McCormack, Gary Murray, Gary Thornton and Eddie McGinley will also be among the Irish competing.

France's Sophie Duarte, the woman who took Britton's European cross-country title last December, and Poland's Iwona Lewandowska, who won this year's Great Ireland Run, are also involved.

Paul Pollock – who ran a European qualifying standard for 10,000m (28:32.1) in Stanford last weekend – and McCambridge will both be competing in the marathon in Zurich, after Athletics Ireland announced that they are entering the marathon 'team' event at Europeans for the first time.

Pollock (Annadle) will be joined by Sean Hehir (Rathfarnham WSAF), Thomas Frazier (St Malachy's) and Kevin Seward (St Malachy's) while Galway's Scotland-based Nicola Duncan will lead the women's team of McCambridge (DSD), Barbara Sanchez (Clonliffe) and Clare McCarthy (Leevale).

National Endurance Coach Chris Jones said it was "a big step forward" to enter in the team event but said "we have worked closely with the Marathon Mission Squad to ensure that our eight athletes will be competitive in Zurich."

Elsewhere, UK-based 800m runner Roseanne Galligan will be the only Irish athlete involved when the Diamond League kicks off in Doha tonight. During her development, Galligan was no stranger to the The Irish Milers Club (IMC) which was set up to try to raise middle-distance standards here.

Their first meeting of 2014 takes place in Greystones tomorrow (2.0-5.30) with events from 100m to 1,500m and they also have races at Le Cheile's meeting on June 27 when the Kildare club open their new track in Leixlip.

Irish Independent

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