Britton just one of many to shine on new track
John Coghlan (Metro St Brigid's) is congratulated by his father Eamonn following his victory in the 1,500m in Athlone yesterday. Photograph: Sportsfile
ATHLETICS:So that’s what we’ve been missing – a proper indoor arena that spurs a cross-country specialist to an awesome turn of speed, writes a fresh chapter in the old Coghlan family history and brings out the best in the new generation, including a unique championship treble.
With confirmation too that Brian Gregan is now definitely a European Indoor title contender, and that Mark English is the most exciting middle distance prospect of our time, no wonder the Irish Indoor Championships, staged for the first time at the new Athlone Institute of Technology arena, felt like a truly welcome homecoming.
It was Fionnuala Britton who found herself playing the opening act, dropping down to the 1,500 metres, and after injecting some very impressive speed, moving to the front 300 metres from home, took the title in 4:13.93 – a full five seconds quicker than her previous best, actually run outdoors.
“Well happy with the time,” said Britton, “a five-second PB. That was the plan, to make one break for it, and it was a bit like the European Cross Country, telling myself not to look back.”
Not bad for a two-time European Cross Country champion, in the midst of training for next month’s World Cross Country, and also a qualifier for the European Indoor championships, set for Gothenburg on the first weekend in March: Britton has already qualified for the 3,000m, the event she will run in Gothenburg.
“The priority for me is very much the World Cross Country, at the end of March, so I have to be realistic, knowing I can’t do all the speed work for indoors, trying to do the endurance as well for cross country.”
Brian Gregan also dropped down from the 400m to the one lap, his victory over 200m in 21.33 just shy of his best of 21:27, run on this track last month, yet he was perfectly content – and happy to have avoided to false-start curse that upset so many of the other sprinters over the afternoon.
“I was slightly conscious, with all the false starts, not to break too fast,” said Gregan, “and just eased into it, really. But it’s exactly where I want to be, and that’s it now until Gothenburg, I’ll just polish off the training, go there to make that final, then take it from there.”
Jason Harvey, presumably, took advantage of Gregan’s absence in the 400m by winning the national title in 47.94, the Crusaders man holding off Tommy Crowe from Doneen AC while Belfast veteran Paul McKee found his quest to turn back the driven-off track at the bell lap, and he pulled up.