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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Britton set for Seville

Scot cruise has Kilcoole ace shining for Spain

NEXT up for Fionnuala Britton in her fantastic cross-country season, after defeating the best that Europe and America could offer, is a test run against the Africans.

Her victory in Saturday's Great Edinburgh Cross Country should mean that Britton is up to the challenge.

She had a convincing 20-second margin over Gemma Steel from Britain, the only one capable of going with Britton once she gently pressed on the accelerator on the second of the three laps around Edinburgh's Holyrood Park before coming home comfortably in 21:32 for the six kilometres.

"This was a big event; I knew everyone would be trying to chase me down and, after Christmas and the new year, I didn't know what sort of shape I was in so it's nice to come out and feel so strong," said the Kilcoole star.

She's unlikely to have it quite as easy in this Sunday's Seville International, the sixth stop on the IAAF Cross Country Challenge, where several Kenyans and Ethiopians are already signed up as opposition to the European champion.

The Seville event - known as the Cross Internacional de Itálica, as it is staged around the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Itálica - is the most prestigious race in the Spanish cross-country season; it's also flat, usually fast, and for the past nine years the women's race has been won by either a Kenyan or an Ethiopian.

The windy, muddy conditions didn't suit Joe Sweeney (DSD), who was 11th in the men's long-course race won by Spain's Ayad Lamsdessen (25:44), ahead of America's Bobby Mack (25:47) and Belgian's European cross-country champion Atelaw Bekele (25:47).

There was surprise at the poor form of Ethiopian superstar Kenenisa Bekele and Olympic steeplechase champion Brimin Kipruto in the men's short-course race.

They could only manage 11th and 12th respectively, while Olympic and world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop coasted to victory in 9:20.

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