Fionnuala Britton and Amy Foster kept up the impressive run of Irish performances at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Gothenburg, with both making it through to the final day.
Double European cross-country champion Britton glided into tomorrow’s 3000m final without much bother, going through in third place in her semi behind Portugal’s Sara Moreira and Lauren Howarth of Britain.
The top three broke away with four laps to go after taking in a sedate pace for much of the race, with Britton recording a time of 9:03.30 – the same as second-placed Howarth – with Moreira, three times a European track medallist, taking it in 9:01.00.
Britton said: “The plan was to get top four and I got top four. It’s nice for a change to what normally happens when I reach the final of a Championship where I have to sit and watch the next heat, and hope that I’ve run fast enough.
“It’s nice to come off not needing to watch the other heat for a change!
“Moreira was probably the class of that field. She went straight up to the front, and it was nice to know there was someone there to rely on, that you could stay with her and you would be safe.”
Britton’s final takes place at 11:10am Irish time tomorrow.
Lisburn athlete Amy Foster will have reason to return tomorrow also, qualifying as a fastest loser to the 60m semi-finals.
Foster equalled the personal best time of 7.33 seconds set last month at the new indoor venue in Athlone to finish fifth in her first-round heat.
She had to wait until the end of the round to see that she had made it through as second-fastest outside of the automatic qualifiers.
The 24-year-old was satisfied, but still feels improvement is possible: “There are things I could have improved on in that race – the start and pick-up, which are really the only two elements in that race.
“I didn’t quite make it easy for myself. I’ve made it into the semis and that‘s the main thing. I was looking for top four, which I didn’t get for automatic qualification. But I’m there.”
There’s a potential 15 minutes of fame for Irish athletes in the afternoon session.
A quarter-hour spell between 4:30 and 4:45 Irish time sees three semi-finals with Irish interest - Rose Anne Galligan and Ciara Everard are in the 800m, with Brian Gregan in the 400 semis.