Mo Farah suffers major blow in bid to make Tokyo Olympics as he misses 10,000m qualifying time
The pre-race prediction was correct: the Mo Farah aura has well and truly gone. It was Marc Scott, the British No 2, who made the daring claim before these British Olympic 10,000-metre trials and it is now impossible to deny it.
At the age of 38, the four-time Olympic champion was not only unable to clock the required time to book his spot in the British team for Tokyo, he was defeated. Defeated by Scott and defeated by six other European runners. He could only finish eighth.
With three weeks to go until the British team is selected, Farah now faces a global trek to belatedly secure the time and prove he is capable of earning a place for Team GB. If not, the reigning Olympic champion will not be in Tokyo.
The build up to the event had been fascinating in itself, with Scott boldly suggesting it was unusual to consider the four-time Olympic champion favourite for this race given Scott’s exploits in moving second on the British all-time list earlier this year.
The event could scarcely have borne less resemblance to Farah’s last formal track race, when he was beaten into 5,000m silver in front of a capacity 54,000-strong London Stadium crowd at the 2017 World Championships.
Here at the University of Birmingham, onlookers barely reached triple figures, with spectators banned and a crowd consisting solely of other runners, coaches, and event staff.
Then, just a couple of laps into the big race of the night, the clock broke. Glamorous this was not, but Olympic spots do not get handed out without graft even for someone of Farah’s pedigree.
Nestled in behind the pacemakers, he quickly established himself in prime position with Scott attached firmly to his heel. With the race doubling as the European Cup, a smattering of continental runners were also in the mix and alarm bells soon started to ring. First one pulled clear, then two and then three.
Farah was steadily going in the wrong direction and the final insult came when Scott outsprinted him in the final few metres. Scott already had the Olympic standard so will be on the plane. As it stands, Farah will not.
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.
Locked together with Jess Judd entering the home straight, McColgan burned her rival to triumph in 31:19.21, with Judd running a personal best 31:20.84 to also confirm her place on the British team.
Meanwhile, Dina Asher-Smith will be under no illusion as to the scale of the task facing her over 100m in Tokyo after Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce stunned the sprinting world with a phenomenal 10.63sec run in Kingston, Jamaica, to move second on the all-time list.
Having won two Olympic and four world 100m titles during her career, Fraser-Pryce, who became a mother four years ago, this week suggested the one thing lacking in her career was to go under 10.70sec.
That she achieved that goal at the age of 34 was a huge surprise, boosted by a 1.6m/s tailwind to move behind world-record holder Florence Griffith-Joyner, who ran the three fastest times in history (10.49sec, 10.61sec and 10.62sec) in 1988.
“I’m lost for words because 10.6 has been a dream, a goal, I’ve been working so hard, being so patient to see it finally unfold. I’m so ecstatic,”said Fraser-Pryce, who set her previous personal best of 10.70 nine years ago.
“If I’m able to run 10.6 now… I’m just looking forward to what the process will bring. I’m continuing the work because I did say that this year I wanted nothing more than to break the 10.7 barrier and I did it.”