Britton targets two more Olympic events

Britton targets two more Olympic events

With Olympic qualification already in the bag, reigning European Cross Country champion Fionnuala Britton now has her eyes focused on setting the pace to ensure she can also take part in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres events at the London games this summer.

The 27-year-old has already got the 'A' qualifying standard for the 3,000 metres steeplechase event - but it is the aforementioned lengthier races that the Kilcoole native is keen to target.

"At the moment I am going to try the 10,000 first and then the 5,000. In the 5,000 I am close to it (qualifying), so hopefully I will be able to do that," said the ESB Electric Ireland-sponsored athlete.

"In the 10,000 I have never done it before, so it's a case of do it and see what happens."

Britton says that there isn't a danger of spreading herself too thinly, by taking part in more than one event.

"It's an endurance event and what will benefit me for say the 10k, if I do the 5k it wouldn't be the same. It's not like going into another sport and trying to do another one at the same time."

The recently ended cross country season has been a stellar one for Britton, with the European title coming her way in Velenje, Slovenia and also an IAAF International victory at the Greenmount Campus in Antrim and another winning run in Edinburgh.

African athletes have always been a tough challenge for the Europeans and Britton is particularly mindful of the challenge former World 10,000 metres champion Linet Masai will pose.

The Kenyan claimed top spot in an 8,000 metres world race in Seville in January, an event which saw an eighth place finish for Britton.

"Having ran in World cross countrys and a lot of international cross countrys I know how tough they are. They are unbelievable to watch and there are a few, like Linet Masai, who are just in a class of their own.

"I suppose we still have to believe that we can chase them down at some point and just keep going for it. Then hope for the best really."

On the subject of the Olympics, Britton confesses that the dream for her was not there in the early years of her career, and that taking part and enjoying sport is as important for her as big race wins.

"I can't say it was there (the Olympic dream). I never really thought about it," she admitted.

"I started running because it was a local club and I joined the club and I loved running. Even at that age I didn't realise there were All-Irelands let alone the Olympics, so no it wasn't there."

Love of sport, rather than the competition aspect of it, clearly provides the key for Ireland's latest middle distance star.

"I think so and obviously when you get to that point where you can qualify for the Olympics that's what I really wanted to do, but it was only really when I got to the point that I realised that I could, that I really thought of it that way.

"It wasn't something that when I was six or seven that I thought, 'oh I watched it on the telly and that's what I really wanted to do'.

"We need everyone to be able to start the sport at a young age to be able to get to that level. Kids will start something where they see someone else being successful.

"That's where it is a bit about medals, if someone wins a medal and other people want to do it as well. Then they will get into that sport.

"For us in athletics we lose a lot of people to team sports, so we need to start them off young and then try to encourage them to stay there. That's where the club and the grassroots level is important."

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