Senior women's final: Britton makes it double gold for Ireland

Senior women's final: Britton makes it double gold for Ireland
European Athletics

Senior women's final: Britton makes it double gold for Ireland

Ireland senior_womens_team
Ireland's senior women's team celebrate their gold medal at the 19th SPAR
European Cross Country Championships in Budapest. (Photo by Getty Images)

What a wonderful win for Ireland and Fionnuala Britton as the Irishwomen retained her title with as tenacious a display of front running as you are likely to see.

To crown her individual performance, Britton also led home the Irish team to gold just edging out France on count-back – both with 52 points - with Great Britain in bronze.

Britton has been in excellent form this autumn and she confirmed it at the 19th SPAR European Cross Country Championships over the course in Skanzen just outside Budapest.

In her first foray over the country, she logged a fourth place in Atapuerca, Spain before she decided to miss the Irish trials because she preferred to seek a sterner test in northern France where in Le Cross de L'Acier she finished a fine third.

But it is maybe her track times this summer just gone that were a crucial indication of Britton's improved form despite her disappointments at the Olympic Games.

Over 3000m, 5000m and 10000m, she has set three lifetime bests this year, a range of events that gave her that extra edge when it came to fending off the likes of Portugal's Ana Dulce Felix, the European 10,000m champion.

Felix had mixed fortunes in this race, at times she was in the lead group but at the mid-way point seemed to suffer a crisis before coming back to claim silver.

Towards the end it even looked as though she might deny Britton victory but the Irish woman's stamina held out and in the final 500m it was Felix anxiously looking around to make sure of silver with Adrienne Herzog of the Netherlands closing while Britton romped over the line.

But for most of the race this was a mano a mano with Belgium's Almensch Belete that characterised the early stages.

The Belgian had declared her intention to lift this title and for most of the race she looked good for her prediction. But in the final analysis it was Britton's merciless pace up front that broke Belete who in the last 500m fell back to a dispirited fourth.

After 12 minutes of running a lead group of eight had detached itself with Britton and co-favourite Felix sharing the lead.

With 15mins on the clock, Britton was starting to turn the screw followed by Belete and Herzog third with France's Sophie Duarte suddenly looking lively.

Two kilometres to go it was still Britton making the pace with Belete happy to let her lead.

As they entered the final lap with 1500m to go it was still Britton and Belete with now Felix who had recovered from her mid-race crisis taking over from Herzog in the bronze medal position

At the barn it was Belete who started to suffer with Felix taking full advantage and Herzog continuing her impressive run, never quite challenging for the lead but always a medal threat and finally being rewarded with bronze.

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