Britton battles her way to bronze

Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton shows the strain as she claims the bronze medal in the 3,000 metres final at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton shows the strain as she claims the bronze medal in the 3,000 metres final at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Sun, Mar 3, 2013, 00:00

Athletics:For a so-called cross country specialist Fionnuala Britton demonstrated a pretty stunning turn of speed to win herself a European Indoor bronze medal over 3,000 metres - dismissing any lingering doubts she might never quite produce it on the track.

It was close, and Britton could just have easily won silver as she could have ended up fourth. Yet her bronze provides a nice accessory to her recent back-to-back successes in the European Cross Country, and underlying Britton’s claim as one the best distance runners around, whatever the surface.

That it came less than 24 hours after Ciarán Ó Lionáird also won bronze in the men’s event makes it that bit extra special again, and brings to 15 the number of medals Ireland has now won in the history of these championships.

Sara Moreira from Portugal was the decisive winner, taking command over the closing laps, winning in 8:58.50: yet Britton battled it out for the remaining medals, bursting through on the inside, as Corinna Harrer from Germany held on for silver in 9:00.50, then Britton in 9:00.54, with the Russian, Yelena Korobkina, out in the third lane, just losing out, with her 9:00.59

“The fact is I feel I’ve come fourth so many times,” said Britton, explaining that utter determination at the finish. “Now I feel so old saying that, but having been in fourth place, I was just thinking, I am not coming fourth, I am not coming fourth...

“So I just know when the Russian came past me again, I was thinking ‘no way am I coming fourth again’. I could maybe have got silver, but then maybe have been fourth as well, so. But then to win a medal, well it’s not easy to win any of them, so you have to be happy whenever you get them.”

It’s worth remembering that Britton came to Gothenburg chiefly as preparation for the World Cross Country, in Poland, three weeks from now - and this should provide the perfect send-off. It was not the smoothest of races, however, and Britton was keen to stay out of trouble, especially after the race was re-started due to a fall on the first bend.

“I think they just decided it was a bit ridiculous, so much carnage at the first start, they called us back, told us to calm down, and we went again. But I knew to keep one eye on Moreira, that when she made a break, she wasn’t coming back. If she wasn’t at the front then it was probably okay.”

There was a confidence and class about the way Britton ran that also underlines her progress in recent years, and if and when she transfers this to the outdoor track it may only be a matter of time before further medals are won.

There was no medal for Ciara Everard, who went in the final of the women’s 800m a little earlier, and yet the Kilkenny ran with typical gusto and steely determination, getting up to fourth as the race unfolded, before finishing sixth in the end – her 2:02.55 just a split second outside her lifetime best. Victory went to the lanky Ukrainian Nataliya Lupo, in 2:00.26

“I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get a bit closer,” said Everard, “but I have to be happy, making the final in my first championships, and I will definitely take lots of positives from this, dealing with the three rounds, and move onwards from here.”

Ireland’s final competitor in action was Amy Fraser, who finished in seventh place in the first semi-final of the 60 metres in a time of 7.37 seconds.

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