Mo Farah finished eighth in the European 10,000m Cup in Birmingham
Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah has only 21 days to find a suitable race – possibly requiring a trip outside England to a relatively obscure meet – to run the Olympic standard for the 10,000m just to be selected for the British team for Tokyo.
Farah finished a huge 22 seconds off the time required to be eligible for selection at the British trials on Saturday, trailing in eighth place in a race which doubled as the European Cup, with Marc Scott beating him to the British crown.
With the 10,000m not part of the Diamond League calendar, Farah faces a challenge to even find a race with a good enough field to run the qualifying mark by the June 28 selection deadline. It means the 38-year-old faces the prospect of his career winding down in a low-key meet on foreign soil if he cannot beat the qualifying mark of 27 minutes 28 seconds.
Farah insists he will not give up on the chance to defend his Olympic title aged 38 but in reality the odds are stacked against him. “I believe I can win the Olympics,” he said. “It will take courage and balls to be able to go out there and mix it with the guys.
“If it is a situation like now, then there’s no choice. But I believe if I get my head down in the next three or four weeks, knuckle down, get this little niggle out the way and then hopefully we should be alright.
“It is not going to be as easy as saying I can do it. There is a lot of work that needs to be done. I am not myself. But it is important I address this, speak to my coach and see what is next.”
Asked how he would feel to miss out on selection for Team GB, Farah said: “It will be painful but at the same time I don’t want to just go and make a team or be No 1 in Britain, I want to go out there and challenge those guys, [world champion Joshua] Cheptegei and the other guys.
“It will take sub-26 minutes. Can I be in that form? I believe I can. But the most important thing is to get this thing sorted and I have three weeks. Time is running out. This will not be the end.”
Farah’s task is made even harder by the ankle injury that he blamed for his poor showing at the University of Birmingham, revealing afterwards he had not been able to run on the track for 10 days leading up to the race, his first since 2017.
Having banked the qualifying standard when he moved second on the British all-time list in February, Scott is assured of his place on the Olympic team.
Of beating Farah, he said: “Maybe it showed there’s a bit of weakness in his age there. But if anyone can come back and run the time and get on the plane, then it’s him. It’s the first time I’ve beat him. It’s a great scalp. We’ll see what we can do in the next few weeks to see if he can get that qualifier.”
Marc Scott has booked his ticket for the Tokyo Olympics
Exactly 30 years after her mother Liz won the world 10,000m title in Tokyo, Eilish McColgan secured her spot for the Olympics in the same city with a thrilling last-gasp victory in the women’s race in Birmingham.
Locked together with Jess Judd entering the home straight, McColgan burned her rival to triumph in 31:19.21. Judd ran a personal best 31:20.84 to also confirm her place on the British team.
Elsewhere, Dina Asher-Smith displayed her Olympic medal credentials with 100m victory at the FBK Games in Hengelo, Holland, although the meet will be best remembered for Sifan Hassan smashing the 10,000m world record.
A day after double Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce moved second on the all-time list with a phenomenal 10.63sec run, Asher-Smith triumphed in 10.92sec. Daryll Neita’s 11.04sec clocking meant she moved behind Asher-Smith to second in the British all-time rankings.
The most eye-opening result came from Hassan, the world 1,500m and 10,000m champion, who finished in 29:36.67 to take 10 seconds off Almaz Ayana’s world record set when winning Olympic gold in Rio.
Jemma Reekie beat training partner Laura Muir to claim 800m victory in 2:00.77, while fellow Jake Wightman won the 1500m in 3:34.67.