“I’m not finishing fourth,” was Fionnuala Britton’s mantra in the last three laps of the 3,000m final as the teak tough Wicklow woman won a fighting bronze medal yesterday.
“Fourth place is the worst place to finish,” said Britton afterwards and that message would have resonated clearly having seen Derval O’Rourke, her room-mate for these European indoor championships, being edged out of a medal by a meagre one-hundredth of a second in the 60m hurdles on Friday night.
O’Rourke tweeted what was in store for Irish fans on the track in Gothenburg early yesterday morning — “Wakey wakey!! Ladies day at the track with Ciara, fionnuala & Amy,” — and gave a running commentary of the day.
Ciara Everard (UCD) was the first lady in action in the 800m final with Rose-Anne Galligan (Newbridge) unlucky to narrowly miss out having run a 2:02.84 indoor personal best in the semi-finals the previous day.
“Everard out on the track getting ready for 800 final. She looks focused and calm. #gogogo,” came the tweet from O’Rourke.
Everard was calm and composed, running one-hundredth of a second outside her personal best to finish sixth in 2:02.54 but ultimately didn’t have the legs to win a medal in a race won by Ukraine’s Nataliya Lupu in 2:00.26.
“The whole thing was a blur for me,” said Everard of the race and the championships itself. The UCD final year student of physiotherapy came away pleased with her debut championships and is now targeting the World Student Games this summer.
Then it was time for the main event from an Irish perspective and to see if Fionnuala Britton could replicate her medal-winning cross country performances on the track.
“She may be tiny but she is tough as nails. Time for the little lady herself fionnuala britton. #15laps3medals,” came the tweet from her room-mate.
The tweet proved prophetic with Britton having to contest for a medal that looked like it might have been out of her grasp coming into the final lap — so much so that RTÉ’s George Hamilton felt “her medal chances are gone”.
Britton rallied and with the fastest final lap of the leading athletes — including eventual winner Sara Moreira of Portugal (8:58.50) — she got the bronze in what co-commentator Thomas Chamney described as “all guts”.
She finished four-hundredths of a second behind Germany’s silver medallist Corrina Harrer — 9:00.50 to 9:00.54.
“Speed queen. Brilliant bronze,” tweeted O’Rourke in reaction.
“You take what you can get and move on I suppose,” said the Kilcoole athlete modestly of her run.
“When you get a medal you love it and you want to come back. In a way you could say I took a bit of a gamble doing indoors before the world cross countries and if I’d come away seventh or ninth you would have said what was the point. [But] it’s a good confidence boost and it’s good preparation,” she concluded ahead of her next challenge — the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland on March 24.
The afternoon saw Amy Foster (City of Lisburn) challenge the fastest women in Europe in the 60m semi-finals — finishing seventh in 7.37.
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