Britton and Sweeney full of confidence
ATHLETICS:Fionnuala Britton and Joe Sweeney, fresh from impressive performances over the weekend, form a strong backbone to the Irish team for the European Cross-Country Championships in Budapest on Sunday week.
Britton travels to Hungary as defending champion and will feel a sense of confidence of winning another gold medal after being denied victory by two top Ethiopians in the Cross de l’Acier in northern France on Sunday.
Sweeney comes back a stronger and better equipped runner than when he came so close to winning a medal in Slovenia last year when he was a closing fifth, just two seconds off the bronze medal.
The lanky Dubliner will have learned so much from that run and has adjusted his preparations accordingly and there was clear proof of his well-being when he retained his inter-counties title in Ratoath over the weekend.
“My training workouts started to come around weeks ago and the work has been getting quicker and quicker,” he said yesterday.
“From this run I know I’m in fantastic shape and I think I have a lot more room for improvement and hopefully that will happen in the Euros.”
Britton’s weekend run was even more exciting after she chased Elyse Tadese and Almensa Belet across the line, just a few seconds back, with the former European junior and under-23 champion, Binnaz Uslu of Turkey, some 33 seconds away fourth.
Last year Britton won by seven seconds from Dulce Felix of Portugal.
European Cross-Country Championships (Budapest, Dec 9th): MEN – Senior: J Sweeney (Dundrum SD), M Mulhare (Portlaoise), D Rooney (Raheny), B O’Neill (Dundrum), S Hehir (Ratharnham), B Maher (Kilkenny). Under 23: C Johnston (Letterkenny AC) D Fitzmaurice (Clonliffe Harriers), P Hogan (Ferrybank AC), S Mealy (Crusaders), J Travers (Donore Harriers), S Mealy (Crusaders) and S Quinn (Ferrybank). Junior: S Kerr (Armagh), S Tobin (Clonmel AC), I Guiden (Clonliffe), K Mooney (Dundrum) and E Totten (Newcastle). WOMEN – Senior: F Britton (Kilcoole AC), A Hutchinson (Dundrum SD), S McCormack (Clonliffe), L Byrne (Dundrum SD), L Lee (Leevale), S L Treacy (Moynalvey). Under-23: U Britton (Kilcoole), L Behan (Kilkenny). Junior: S Cleirigh Buttner (DSD AC), S Collins (Finn Valley AC), L Conroy (Mullingar Harriers), M Mulhare (Portlaoise ),C McCarthy (Dundrum), M O’Sullivan (Tinryland AC).