Britton forced to settle for second place in Edinburgh

Victory continues to elude former European champion cross-country champion as Britain’s Gemma Steel takes glory

Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton: “I lost my European title. I’ve finished second here, and that’s not the worst, but I’ve won this the last two years too, so I do really feel like I just lost this as well.”  Photo: Declan Roughan/Inpho

Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton: “I lost my European title. I’ve finished second here, and that’s not the worst, but I’ve won this the last two years too, so I do really feel like I just lost this as well.” Photo: Declan Roughan/Inpho

 


There’s nothing wrong with finishing second in one of the headline events of the cross country season. For Fionnuala Britton it just doesn’t beat that once familiar winning feeling.

Now, without a World Cross Country in 2014, the season begins to wind down, and so Saturday’s Great Edinburgh Cross Country – where Britton finished second – was one of the last opportunities to salvage some glory.

As it turns out, in the three races since surrendering her European Cross Country title in Belgrade last month, when finishing fourth, Britton has now beaten all three of the athletes that finished ahead of her that day – including the gold medallist Sophie Duarte from France, who only managed fourth on Saturday.


Silver medallist
Still, victory here went to Gemma Steel from Great Britain, the silver medallist from the Europeans, yet who Britton had beaten in the Antrim International the previous Saturday.

“Every week seems to throw up something different,” said the Wicklow athlete. “I’ve run three races now since the Europeans, and in all of those races beat all athletes that were ahead of me at those Europeans. But it would be nice to do it all in the one day, and maybe win something.”

Britton did have to dig deep to get second, after Steel and her British team-mate Emelia Gorecka pulled away on the final lap. Gorecka, still only 19, had won the European junior title in Belgrade. Britton passed her close to the finish, finishing nine seconds down on Steel.

“Yeah, I was thinking this girl (Gorecka) is 10 years younger than me, I can’t let her beat me,” added Britton. “I always knew it was going to be hard to catch Gemma. Then I’d beaten her last week. But then Almensch (Belete) from Belgium beat me last week, and she struggled here (finishing 11th).

Fourth again
“And at one stage I was thinking I’d be fourth again. But you can’t think like that, or you’ll just give in. ”

Reflecting on the season, Britton takes some encouragement that she was improving with every race – and that perhaps it will all build nicely for the track season: “Well I lost my European title. I’ve finished second here, and that’s not the worst, but I’ve won this the last two years too, so I do really feel like I just lost this as well. It obviously hasn’t been the worst season. It’s not like I’ve gone from first to last . . .”

There was also a good fifth -place finish Michael Mulhare from Portlaoise in the men’s international, his 24.32 for the 8km race just 21 seconds behind race winner Chris Derrick, of the USA, who ran 24.11. David McCarthy from Waterford finished in 11th in 24.49.