Britton blitzes rivals to send out strong message for 2012


ATHLETICS:FIONNUALA BRITTON started the new year the same way she ended the old one with a runaway victory in the Tom Brennan Memorial 5km road race in the Phoenix Park.

In a style that mirrored her victory in last month’s European Cross Country, Britton took advantage of the flat course by setting a blistering pace from the start, and was rewarded with a new course record of 16 minutes and 15 seconds – knocking an impressive 24 seconds off the record she established last year.

This left the Wicklow runner over a minute clear of second-placed Fiona Roche from Raheny, and proved a useful tune-up for the more important assignment next Saturday, when Britton is the star attraction at the Edinburgh International Cross Country.

“I think I needed this race to get back into the groove again after the holidays and I know that I will be up against a big challenge in Edinburgh,” said the 27-year-old.

“The course here today and that in Edinburgh are totally different because the hills over there will really be a test of strength, but I’ve fully recovered from the Europeans and am back in the full flow of things again.”

The men’s race also proved most rewarding for the winner, as John Coghlan of Metro St Brigid’s finally eclipsed the men’s course record set five years ago by Olympian James Nolan. Coghlan – son of former world champion Eamonn – clocked 14 minutes 34 seconds, knocking five seconds off Nolan’s record.

The 23-year-old DCU student enjoyed a substantial margin of 43 seconds from emerging 800 metres talent Anthony Lieghio from Tallaght, with the 1996 Olympian Shane Healy a stride behind in third, but happy his comeback is beginning to bear fruit.

The race, hosted by Liffey Valley Athletic Club, also marked the launch of the Office of Public Works celebration of the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Phoenix Park in 1662.