Mo Farah faces an uphill struggle to reach his fourth Olympics after finishing eighth and failing to record qualifying time for Tokyo at the European Cup in Birmingham. Farah, who ran his first 10,000 meters in four years, was expected to easily run the required time of 27:28:00.
But long before the finish his body was failing him and he was even beaten by fellow Brit Marc Scott in a final sprint. Farah’s finish time, 27:50:54, was the slowest in years.
The 38-year-old will have another three weeks to reach qualifying level, but the chances of him making it, let alone defending his 10,000m title in Tokyo, now seem slim. Scott was seventh with 27.49: 83 in a race won by Frenchman Morhad Amdouni in 27:23:27.
Farah was one of 12 British athletes to compete in the 10,000m European Cup, which was doubled as the British trials for the Tokyo Olympics. The news from Farah’s camp was that he was in excellent shape after a training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona, and he scored an early point for his rivals by taking the lead on the first lap, which was run in 62 seconds. Thereafter, though he backed off and was struggling long before he started clenching his teeth in the final laps.
But the night inevitably centered on Farah’s attempt to make her fourth Olympics. The last time he ran over 10,000m he won gold in front of 54,000 local fans at the 2017 London World Championships. This time, due to Covid, there were just a few hundred people, mostly volunteers and officials, watching. Much more has changed in the last four years.
Back then, Farah was near her prime. Now he is nearing his 40th birthday. And while his decision to go to the marathon was a lucrative experience, it was also a lesson in punishment. How could he not be when he only won a solo 26.2 mile race and never got anywhere near world record holder Eliud Kipchoge when they first met?
The 10,000+ meter competition has also advanced. Last year, Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei, 24, broke the world records of 5,000 and 10,000 meters, while his compatriot Jacob Kiplimo, who is only 20 years old, recorded the sixth fastest time in history. With another brilliant young African, 21-year-old Kenyan Rhonex Kipruto, who set the 10km road record of 26:24 last year, there are many athletes heading to Tokyo who have run faster than Farah. Not surprisingly, Scott, his main British rival, recently suggested that he no longer had “a great aura.”
And now, after Birmingham, Farah’s hopes of reaching Tokyo are at stake. As it stands, only six athletes have won two 10,000m Olympic titles: Paavo Nurmi, Emil Zatopek, Lasse Viren, Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele and Farah. The chances of Farah defying history now seem impossible.
Earlier in the evening, Britain’s Eilish McColgan produced a thrilling final lap to chase down Israeli athlete Selamawit Teferi to win the European Cup and also qualify for Tokyo. McColgan, the daughter of former 10,000 meter world champion Liz, arrived in 31:19:21. Not far behind in third place was Britain’s Jess Judd, who posted a personal best of 31: 20.84 to also reserve her spot at the Olympics.
Meanwhile, in Jamaica, another multi-Olympic champion made an even stronger statement when Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran 10.63 seconds for 100 meters, the second fastest time for a woman in history. Fraser-Pryce, who won 100 meters of gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and the 2019 World Championships, was defeated by Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith a fortnight ago on a cold, wet night in Gateshead a fortnight ago . But he found the races in perfect condition at the National Stadium in Kingston much more enjoyable.
She swept through the blocks and was clear midway through before heading home to break her own national record of 10.70, which she shared with Elaine Thompson-Herah. Only American Florence Griffith Joyner, who ran 10.49 in 1988 but passed away a decade later, has only gone faster. “Honestly, I never expected to run 10.6 and I think it’s a good thing because there was no pressure,” Fraser-Pryce told reporters while screaming with excitement. “I have no words because 10.6 has been a dream, a goal, I have been working so hard, being so patient to see it finally unfold. I’m so ecstatic. “
Going into the race, the Olympic favorite appeared to be American Sha’Carri Richardson, 21, who ran 10.72 in the spring. Thompson-Herah ranks third in the world this year at 10.78.
Meanwhile, Asher-Smith only ran 11.35 at Gateshead but with a headwind of -3.1m / s and torrential rain. The 25-year-old Brit also insists she is in much better shape than when she finished second in the 2019 world championships behind Fraser-Pryce in 2019.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism