Pollock eyes up Euro gold
Belfast man bidding for podium finish in Belgrade
COULD Ireland possibly be celebrating not one but two individual medals at next month's European Cross-Country in Belgrade?
Paul Pollock (pictured), an impressive winner of the men's 10km at the National Intercounties in Santry, certainly thinks so.
"I'm in shape to win it. I was very happy with my run in the marathon at the World Championships and I think I can definitely compete with the best in Europe, although there are 20 others that could win on the day. So I'll have to up my game and you need some luck as well," he said after his win.
After a "disappointing" run at the cross-country in Spain a week earlier, Pollock had gone out cautiously at Santry.
"I knew the reputation of guys like David McCarthy and Michael Mulhare that people had been talking about before the race. So on the first lap I was sitting in. Once three laps had passed, my confidence grew and I felt there was no-one else there who could beat me."
At that point, Pollock made his move, with McCarthy, who is pre-selected for the Europeans, tracking him. A lap later and it was Dan Mulhare and then his brother Michael who were doing their best to keep in touch. With one lap to go, there was no doubting the winner and the battle was on for the minor placings.
It proved a memorable win for Pollock, a doctor by profession now training full-time in Teddington, London. "I was completely focused on this race since I became a full time athlete, which has worked out brilliantly for me.
"On a good day, with good conditions, I thinkI can medal at the Europeans, but I'm aiming for a win. We'll have a strong team and I think we can do Ireland proud."
Ireland's other great hope is, of course, Fionnuala Britton, who is going for a third consecutive win in the women's race.
"It's been different for me this year not having a summer season, so I've had a longer build-up. But the races are bringing me on and we have another three weeks to go," Britton said after taking her second Intercounty title.
A final test before the Europeans awaits on Sunday at the Cross de L'Acier in France, where Britton takes on African opposition.