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Britton has Antrim quest

DOUBLE European cross-country champion Fionnuala Britton will defend her title at the Antrim International at Greenmount, Co Antrim, on Saturday, January 12.

That will come after her run in Sunday's Great Edinburgh Cross, where she takes on a strong international field.

Britton's successful defence of her European title in Budapest capped a breakthrough year for the 28-year-old Kilcoole athlete. After switching from the steeplechase to the 5000m and 10000m, she improved her personal best times not only over these distances but also over 3000m last summer.


She finished fourth over 5000m at the European Championships in Helsinki and ran both 5000m and 10000m at the London Olympics, recording a personal best time in the 10000m.

Following her European cross-country success, Britton showed that she's on target for a strong result in the World Championships next March by finishing second at an international cross-country in Brussels.

While the international field for Antrim has yet to be finalised, one confirmed starter is London 2012 marathon runner Linda Byrne of Dundrum South Dublin. Byrne, who won the Irish cross-country title at Santry last February, finished eighth in Budapest and helped the Irish to a historic team gold.

Over the Christmas, Byrne beat all the men at a charity race in Longford, completing the 5km distance in 16 minutes 44 seconds. Previous competitors in the 35-year history of the Antrim International have included Steve Ovett, Steve Cram, Brendan Foster, John Treacy, Paul Tergat, Paula Radcliffe, Catherina McKiernan, Charlotte Purdue and Hayley Yelling.

Online entry for the men and women's senior and junior races, as well as U-13, U-15, U-17, and U-19 races is available at the Athletics Northern Ireland website until 9am on Monday, January 7. Entry fees are £6 senior, £4 juvenile.