Cross Country

Britton ready for the ‘pressure’ in Euro Cross build-up

Double European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala Britton hasn’t even considered her rivals to her throne after a five week altitude training stint in Font Romeu as she heads into her first major test of the season at the Lotto Cross Cup in Antwerp, Belgium on Sunday.

 “To be honest I actually haven’t looked at anything,” said the Wicklow  woman. “I
basically went away for 5 weeks to train and ignored everything. The only one person I did see up there was Sophie
Duarte and I know she is going to be one of the (challengers). She was up there for the same
reason I was there, so that’s the only person I’ve noticed recenty.”

Britton missed the summer due to illness and admitted she was more nervous than usual in her first  race of the season at the Gerry Farnan Cross Country Festival on October 20.

 “It’s always a bit nerve wracking going in to your first race,” said Britton.
“And this year was even worse because (it was) after a very long gap and a very bad last race.”

Britton, who also won European indoor bronze over 3,000m last season, was pleased with her altitude training camp in the French Pyrenees as part of the Athletics Ireland endurance  squad.

“It was good,” said Britton simply. “It was different. I’ve been out there a lot. I
love the training out there and I really like it. This time it was different with the group to support each other and then the support staff around that.

“It worked
really well and I think you can see from that race (Gerry Farnan) and from the next one to come (Antwerp) that it paid
off all of us being out there together.”

The Irish women’s team will be aiming to retain the title they won surprisingly last year and Britton feels that they will be targeted this year as well as herself  individually.

 “From our point of view the team is going to
be very different but from a European perspective they are going to be looking
at us very differently too,” said the team leader of the squad that should have different personnel this time around.

“Last year we kind of snuck in there with medal
hopes never really expecting ourselves to win. So if we didn’t expect to win,
they didn’t expect us to win either. Where now they are going to look at it in a
completely different light – we are going to be targeted. So I suppose it’s the
same for  the team as it is for me now.
It’s nice to spread the pressure.”

The pressure is something the Wicklow woman has become accustomed to at this time of year with it reaching a crescendo come December 8th in Serbia, Belgrade.

 “Yeah, every year kind of starts the same and it’s just a
gradual build-up of pressure,” said Britton confidently. “It worked last year so.”

Looking for her third European cross country title in a row, Britton feels she is moving in the right direction from her training camp and is unconcerned about selection which she can assure herself of with a top 8 finish in Antwerp.

“If you train hard for 5 weeks you should have
improved,” declared the two-time  Olympian. “I think I’ve moved on since I went out there.

“I’m not worried about the selection.
I’m just worried about getting good races and in the right position. If you don’t
deserve selection from those races then you probably don’t deserve to be there. I want to prove  in
the meantime that I should be there.”

Her next race after  Antwerp will be the Intercounties (Irish trials) on November 17 which this year is an open race with some potential for international competitors.

“It  would be deadly if
it was an international race,” said Britton excitedly. “There is no reason why we can’t host good ones in
Ireland. And, I suppose, (the) European Cross (2009)
showed that.”

She has no further racing plans at present and has put the disappointment of missing out on the summer season behind her.

“It’s gone. There’s nothing I can do about it now. I just have
to move on.”

Britton admitted she is still unsure of her shape stating, ” I don’t really know. You can never really tell.” More will be revealed in Antwerp on Sunday.

Below is attached the Irish competitors for the weekend and a  provisional external startlist for the event.

Senior Men

Michael Mulhare (Portlaoise AC)

David McCarthy (West Waterford AC)

John Coghlan (MSB AC)

Mark Hanrahan (Leevale AC)

Senior Women

Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC)

Sara Treacy (Moynalvey AC)

Laura Crowe (Riocht AC)

Ann Marie Larkin (Lifford AC)

U23 Women

Mary Mulhare (Portlaoise AC)

Rachael Smyth (St. Coca’s AC)

Maria O’Sullivan (Raheny Shamrock)

U23 Men

Darren Mc Brearty (Letterkenny AC)

Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders AC)

Junior Women

Siofra Cleirigh-Buttner (DSD AC)

Clodagh O’Reilly (Annalee AC)

Megan Ryan (DSD AC)

Sarah Fitzpatrick (DSD AC)

Junior Men

Aaron Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers AC)

Con Doherty (Westport AC)

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Feidhlim Kelly

Feidhlim Kelly

Con Houlihan once told me that tomorrow is now. In taking on this venture I’ve started to try and put his words into action.

I worked for Con from 2007 till his passing in 2012 taking down his copy and a whole lot more. I have a Con Houlihan section which will go in to more depth on that.

I’m a long-time contributor to the Irish Runner magazine and am also working for the Irish Examiner.

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