Friday 19 July 2019

Fionnuala Britton hits back at 'begrudgers' over marathon spot

Fionnuala Britton
Fionnuala Britton

Cliona Foley

FIONNUALA Britton has responded, for the first time, to those who criticised Athletics Ireland for giving her a marathon berth at last summer's European Championships.

The two-time European cross-country champion, who had qualified for the 10,000m in Zurich, also made her marathon debut there, despite not even running a half-marathon beforehand or meeting any of AAI's official marathon qualification criteria.

Tenth place, and a time (2:31.46) which was the fourth fastest ever by an Irishwoman, vindicated the decision.

Yet there was still some criticism that AAI made a late exception for her, given that they usually apply such strict time-based selection standards.

"I would never have asked to be selected if I was taking someone else's place," Britton (below) told the Irish Independent yesterday.

"I felt, from other competitions that I'd done, that I'd justify selection, and I was going to be there (in Zurich) anyway.

"Given all those circumstances I didn't think it was such a big deal, especially as it wasn't going to affect anyone else and I was prepared to take full responsibility for it.

"I can understand where people are coming from as I often have opinions on things that I don't really have a right to have an opinion on. But, in other ways, I feel why are people so begrudging about things? If it doesn't affect you negatively in any way then why let it?"

Britton is hot favourite again to win the senior women's title at the GloHealth National (inter-county) Cross Country Championships in Dundalk IT on November 23.

After missing out on the European three in-a-row last year, Britton is gunning to get back on the podium at this year's championships in Bulgaria on December 14.

The top three in each race at 'nationals' will automatically be selected for Europeans and Britton feels strongly that, after that, home-based athletes in the junior and U-23 grades should be given priority ahead of US college athletes "unless they're clearly a massive step ahead of those at home".

"I don't think that coming in the top 100 in NCAAs is enough to justify being brought home. Year after year they've shown that they're tired after a tough NCAA season or tired after the travel.

"There will be obviously be exceptions. Someone like Siofra (Cleirigh Buttner)."

Irish Independent

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