The story of this year for Brian Fay has been one of progression. The Raheny man has ran PB’s over every distance from 1500m to 10,000m on the track and only last weekend knocked nine seconds of the Irish Indoor 5000m record in Boston. Over Cross Country Fay has been just as successful finishing 13th at the recent NCAA Championships in Oklahoma.
All of that bodes well ahead of a massive race tomorrow for the 24-year-old. Having finished tenth at the European Cross Country Championships on home soil last year he will be looking to improve on his position and deliver a big performance in Turin.
“The standard is so good in European Cross Country running that you don’t really know how it’s going to go,” Fay tells Irish Runner.
“I beat a few decent guys last year but I’m sure they’ll show up and bring their best game.
“It’s hard to tell but I’d be hoping to be a little more competitive at the top, that’s certainly my game plan.”
Brian Fay eyes team silverware at European Cross Country Championships
Fay was the first Irishman home last year as the team finished fourth narrowly missing out on a medal on what was a memorable day in Abbottstown, and he is confident they can contend for silverware once again this year.
“I think we have a chance, and we are going out there to be as competitive as we can,” he says.
“We can stick it up to these guys and give them a run for their money which is what you want.
“It's going to be a hard race.
“We'll see how it works out, but I think we are in a very good position.”
On paper the Irish team looks arguably stronger than it was twelve months ago. Fay is joined by last year’s national senior champion and silver medallist this year Hiko Tonosa, Cormac Dalton (15th at NCAA’s), Barry Keane (17th at NCAA’s), Peter Lynch (3rd at national senior championships), and Pierre Murchan (6th at national senior championships) all of whom are in great form and will be looking for good individual races.
Fay has returned this week from the University of Washington where he is currently studying for a Masters in History. He has switched coach from Feidhlim Kelly to work with Andy Powell, a relationship which he believes is working so far however he is still full of praise for the Dublin Track Club founder.
“Feidhlim is still involved in my running, he's still very much a mentor for me.
“I call him pretty much after every race,” he admits.
“Andy is a great coach, he's one of the best distance coaches in the States and everything's gone well with him.
“It was obviously just culturally a bit of an adjustment going from Ireland to America, settling in, but for the most part the running has worked out great.”
Fay is now into his final year of eligibility but has big ambitions for the future when he finishes his studies.
“The plan next year is to continue running post collegiately and hopefully be paid to do it and be a professional.
“I think the NCAA's is the perfect platform for me to be in at the minute to get to that stage.
“I'm in my sixth year of college now and I think I've done enough time there.
“I'm certainly athletically mature enough to move on and mentally and socially mature enough to move out of the collegiate setting and hopefully go onto professional running.”
Despite the NCAA season being so demanding on him the opportunity to represent his country clearly means a great deal to him.
“Being an Irish athlete, running for Ireland would be a bigger commitment (than NCAA’s).
“Running for my country is my main objective.
“A lot of NCAA guys are spent when they get to this stage of the season, but I feel like I’m only getting started.”
It appears that Brian Fay is in peak condition entering the weekend. The prospect of a strong Irish team performance and the chance that they could take home medals seems a real possibility.
The European Athletics Cross Country Championships will be broadcast live on RTÉ 2 (Senior Races) and on the RTÉ Player. Action will also be streamed live on the European Athletics All TV Platform in partnership with RTÉ.