By Kieran Rooney
Fionnuala Brittion's fantastic season continued when she took a bronze medal in the women’s 3,000 metres at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg on Sunday.
It was one of two bronze medals for the Irish side, Ciaran O Lionaird having finished third in the men’s 3,000 metres on Saturday. There were also some hard luck stories with Derval O’Rourke only just missing out on a medal in the women’s 60 metres hurdles and Brian Gregan tripping in the men’s 400 metres semi-finals.
Most of attention, it’s fair to say, was centred on Britton. While she is a brilliant cross-country runners, having won two European titles, there were doubts about her ability to deliver on the track.
But she showed huge reslience to grab third place in the tighest of finishes behind Portugal’s Sara Moreira and Corinna Harrer from Germany. The battle for the silver and bronze was down to a blanker finish with Britton just finishing .04 of a second behind Harrer and .05 of a second in front of Russia’s Yelena Korobkina.
She showed tremendous fighting qualities to dip in order to get the medal. As much as she has enjoyed her success at cross-country, she has real ambitions to make an impression on the track.
“I know the track is where it’s really at, I’m not stupid. The outdoor track and the Olympics is really where everyone wants to be.” Britton admitted.
O Lionaird from Cork, meanwhile, would also seem to have a lot to look forward to after gaining his bronze in the men’s 3,000 metres. He ran a time, a full three seconds quicker than his previous best.
His jubiliation contrasted sharply with his his response at the Olmpic Stadium where he appeared totally fed up with the sport. “I think everyone is changed by their experiences.” he admitted.
“I needed to take that hit at the Olympics, let that happen at some stage of my career. I’m a lot happier now.”
Brian Gregan, sadly, was far from happy after his elimination in the 400 metres semi-finals. He was tripped from behind by the Ukrainian runner Volodymyr Burakov.
“He didn’t trip me, he stood on me.” insisted Gregan. “It wasn’t my fault.” There was an appeal from the Irish management which proved unsuccesful.
Derval O’Rourke, for her part, had to wait several minutes before finding out that she had lost out on a bronze medal in the women’s 60 metres hurdles. It was deeply frustrating as the Irish runner had finished just 0.01 seconds behind the winner in a blanker finish.