Brit­ton wins in Ed­in­burgh

Kil­coole run­ner car­ries great form into the New Year

Bray People - - SPORT - MARK KENNEDY

FION­NU­ALA BRIT­TON has taken her fan­tas­tic form of 2012 into the new year.

Hav­ing fin­ished the 2012 ath­letic sea­son in a blaze of glory by be­com­ing the first woman to win back to­back Euro­pean cross-coun­try ti­tles, the Kil­coole club flier was back on the win­ner's podium again on Satur­day last.

This time she was suc­cess­fully de­fend­ing an­other ti­tle at the Great Ed­in­burgh In­ter­na­tional cross-coun­try com­petion, a race she dom­i­nated from gun to tape and in which left her long-time neme­sis Dulce Felix trail­ing in her wake.

In­deed, Por­tu­gal's Felix had to be con­tent with fifth place as the Kil­coole speed­ster burned up a strong field with her blis­ter­ing pace from start to fin­ish.

Brit­ton was the leader of a strong Euro­pean team that also in­cluded Ir­ish team-mate Linda Byrne, who took an im­pres­sive sixth place on the back of the in­spi­ra­tional run­ning of the Wicklow ath­lete.

From the start Brit­ton laid down a marker for the rest of the field as she po­si­tioned her­self at the head of the pack.

With 600m of the last lap to go, Fion­nu­ala slipped on the wet grassy sur­face, was dumped on her bum, but she had opened up such day­light be­tween her­self and her op­po­nents at that stage that she still can­tered home a clear win­ner, some 16 sec­onds ahead of Dutch ath­lete Adri­enne Her­zog in a time of 20.40.

Fion­nu­ala and Ir­ish col­league Linda Byrne were also part of the victorious Euro­pean team that took the over­all team vic­tory ahead of Great Bri­tain and North­ern Ire­land and the USA.

Next up for Brit­ton and Byrne wil be the IAAF Antrim cross-county this Satur­day and once more the Kil­coole lass will be putting her crown on the line.

Now she is hop­ing that Ire­land will have a team en­tered in the World Cham­pi­onships in March. On her re­cent form she will be the hot favourite to add the World ti­tle to the other ti­tles won over re­cent months and she feels that hav­ing team-mates run­ning along­side her would boost her chances of success even more.

Coach Chris Jones con­firmed on Tues­day that Fion­nu­ala will take part in the in­door cham­pi­onships in Gothen­burg in March ahead of the world cham­pi­onships later that month.

Fion­nu­ala has just had her best sea­son in the year just ended. Ten days ago in Brus­sels the dou­ble Euro­pean cross-coun­try cham­pion fin­ished the Lotto Cross Cup with an im­pres­sive sec­ond place against a highly-rated field that in­cluded elite Ethiopian and Kenyan run­ners.

Fion­nu­ala started her in­ter­na­tional Ju­nior ca­reer in cross coun­try run­ning in 2001, fin­ish­ing 33rd in the 2003 IAAF world cross coun­try cham­pi­onships, but she has come a long way since then.

Her many suc­cesses since in­clude win­ning a steeplechase sil­ver in the 2006 Euro­pean Cup; an Un­der-23 sil­ver medal at the 2006 Euro­pean crosss­coun­try cham­pi­onships; tak­ing sec­ond place in the Al­mond Blos­som cross-county in 2011 and third at the high level Cross de l'Acier cross-coun­try.

She also took gold from the 2011 Euro­pean cross-coun­try cham­pi­onships in Ve­lenje, Slove­nia.

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