Sir Mo Farah, one of Britain's greatest ever Olympians, has failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games this summer, likely bringing to a close his remarkable athletic career
Credit: Nathan Stirk
/Getty Images Europe
The dream is over and, most likely, so is Mo Farah’s elite athletics career. There will be no Olympic 10,000 metres hat-trick, no title defence and no Farah at the Tokyo Games next month.
Britain’s most successful distance runner had one final shot at securing the Olympic qualifying standard in Manchester on Friday night, but failed in his last-gasp bid for glory.
Forced to run the final nine laps by himself, he missed out on the required mark by more than 19 seconds, as he clocked 27 minutes 47.04 seconds.
All good things come to an end and, at the age of 38, time has caught up with him.
“You go out there and give it your all and that’s all you have,” said Farah. “It’s quite windy. I tried to push and push, and I ran my lungs out. That’s all you can do as a human being, give it your all.
“I’ve had a wonderful career. I’m very grateful. That’s all I had today.”
Asked if he would now retire, he said: “It’s a tough one. I’ve always said if I can’t compete with best, I’m not going to be in a final. Tonight wasn’t good enough.”
This was it for Farah. His first attempt at securing a seat on the Team GB plane to Tokyo had gone disastrously earlier in June when he trailed in eighth place at the standalone official British 10,000m trials, suffering his first defeat over the distance since 2011. More significantly, his time that day was more than 22 seconds slower than the required Olympic standard.
That left him with three weeks to find a suitable race elsewhere and prove he was quick enough to gain selection before the deadline this Sunday. To add even greater jeopardy, he needed to recover from an ankle injury that he revealed had caused him to miss a fortnight of training in late May.
This time, nothing would be left to chance. At Farah’s request, UK Athletics agreed to tack on a guest 10,000m race at the end of the opening day of these British Championships in Manchester.
Farah even dug into his own pocket to boost his chances of making the time, paying expenses and hotel fees for Australia’s double Olympians Ryan Gregson and David McNeill, as well as Belgium’s Bashir Abdi, to act as pacemakers.
Make no mistake, this was not a race in the usual sense of the word – this was the Mo show. Such is the privilege afforded to a four-time Olympic and five-time world champion.
Despite challenging conditions and a powerful headwind, Dina Asher-Smith cruised through the 100m heats
Credit: Chris Cooper
Elsewhere on a bitterly cold opening day of competition in Manchester, Dina Asher-Smith cruised through the 100m heats with a minimum of fuss despite strong headwinds ruining any hope of fast sprint times.
With warmer weather forecast for Saturday’s semi-finals and final, the world 200m champion will expect to go far quicker than the 11.28sec she clocked to advance as the fastest qualifier.
European 100m champion Zharnel Hughes was quickest in the men’s heats, running 10.50sec into an enormous -3.4m/s headwind. Fellow heat winners Chijindu Ujah and Reece Prescod look likely to provide the stiffest competition.
James Ellington’s unlikely quest to qualify for a third Olympics after almost losing his life in a motorcycle crash four years ago came to a premature end as he failed to advance.
These are the first British Olympic trials not televised this century after the Telegraph revealed the BBC had opted not to pay for the rights and UK Athletics decided against gifting them a free live stream for the red button and BBC website.
Jo Coates, UK Athletics chief executive, defended her decision on Friday, insisting streaming it on the governing body’s own website and YouTube feed provided a chance to “find younger audiences”.
Coates said: “People have said it’s not on TV but it is – it’s on a lot of smart TVs via YouTube. And we think that’s a better way to showcase the sport than it being hidden on the red button.
“As CEO, I don’t want to devalue the sport, and I think giving it away for free devalues the sport.”