Fionnuala Britton secured a place in tomorrow morning's final of the 3,000m at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg with a third place finish in her heat, which took place this morning.
Britton finished behind Sara Moreira of Portugal (9:01.00) and Lauren Howarth of Britain, recording a time of 9:03.30
The Wicklow athlete, who is inexperienced in this particular discipline, ran a controlled race from start to finish, though she admitted to RTÉ Sport that it was rough race.
“I suppose it was a bit of a messy race in a way – I probably ran wide when I didn’t need to,” she said. “But when it’s about qualifying you want to put yourself in the right position to not have to do too much work but also be able to cover anything that happens. It worked out fine, got top four and that was the aim.”
"Everyone reacts much quicker to everything" - Fionnuala Britton
Jostling for position is part and parcel of indoor racing, where the straights are short and the bends come quickly, and Britton adapted to the surroundings quickly, using her instinct to spot the potential trouble spots.
“You can tell (when it’s going to get rough). It slows down and people start thinking ‘Oh I shouldn’t be here, I should be up there’,” she added. “Because I never ran championship indoors it is different. Everyone reacts much quicker to everything.
“One person goes by on the straight and you come to a bend and you can’t do anything, so every time you try to do anything, it’s coming off a bend. It’s kind of strange but, I suppose, it makes the race go by quickly. You have to watch everything else that’s going on.”
Despite her inexperience, Britton was no more nervous than she would be in the familiar surrounds of cross-country, perhaps even less so.
“You’re always nervous at the start," she admitted. "I think sometimes, in a way, you’re more nervous when you know what you should be able to do because it seems so simple and yet you still have to do it, so it’s not really that easy.
“When there are nine girls there with the exact same plan, it’s hard to know what anyone’s going to do"
“Everyone has run around the same time, so everything probably believed the exact same thing going into that race. It’s not like you can write some people off or say some people are going to take it out because it wasn’t really like that.
“When there are nine girls there with the exact same plan, it’s hard to know what anyone’s going to do.
“But I felt okay. I was aware at the end – I felt the two girls at the front were pushing it a little bit, and I wasn’t sure whether it was to get away or why because I was kind of ‘I think we’re safe’.
“I suppose with the track being so small, people may think they’re further away than they are and I knew there was two girls together behind so it wasn’t safe for four so I was [thinking] ‘stick with them and I should be fine’. “
Britton took a glance at the big screen as the bell rang to ensure she was in control of her destination, though she’s unsure of whether or not it was helpful.
“The screen is in the middle of the track ... so it’s a different perspective to what you’re looking at in the race, so I suppose it throws you a bit, but I wanted to have a quick check to see what was happening.”
The final is due off at 11.10 tomorrow morning.
Meanwhile, Amy Foster qualified for the semi-finals of the 60m, coming fifth in her heat this morning.