McCormack in fine form ahead of Cross-Country Championship

Kerry O'Flaherty finished fourth in the Irish trials  
Inside Track with Malcolm McCausland

THE good news from the Fionnuala McCormack camp in advance of Sunday’s European Cross-Country Championships in Hyeres, France is that the Wicklow woman is back to the form that saw her crowned champion in 2011 and '12.

McCormack impressed two weekends ago with a fine runner-up spot in Alcobendas, Spain where she ran former world 10,000m champion Linet Masai to 36 seconds over five miles. More significantly she left trailing in her wake the top Spaniards who took team silver medals last year.

However, the main threat to the Kilcoole AC’s athlete is likely to come from a closer source. The British selection includes last year’s winner and runner-up in Gemma Steel and Kate Avery. Add in France’s Sophie Duarte who won in 2013 and Holland’s European 1500m champion Sifan Hassan and you have a beezer of a woman’s race.

Newcastle’s Kerry O’Flaherty ran well to finish fourth in the Irish trials and is one of a strong Irish squad that could repeat the surprise bronze team medals of last year.

Annadale Strider Paul Pollock went one better than O’Flaherty by taking the final podium spot in the men’s trial. That came after taking a month’s rest from training but expect to see a sharper, fitter Pollock on Sunday as he attempts to improve on his best ever placing of 23rd last year in Bulgaria.

Banbridge athlete Emma Mitchell (U23 Women) and City of Lisburn’s James Edgar (Junior Men) complete the Ulster representation at the championships.

The event will be on the BBC red button from 9.35am on Sunday with highlights on BBC2 later that day at 4.15pm.


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