Athletics: Groin injury stops Farah defending European title

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Mo Farah will not defend his European Cross Country title in Toro, Spain, next month as he continues his recovery from a groin injury. Farah, who was pre-selected to chase a second successive crown, has also withdrawn from the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team competing in the Chiba Ekiden Relays in Japan tomorrow .

The Somalia-born athlete, who finished second over 5,000 metres at last year's European Championships, will now focus on next year's Olympic Games. Farah decided not to defend his crown for fears of aggravating the injury and plans to spend January in South Africa – the first training camp of the year.

"My preparations for Beijing have to take priority," Farah said. "I've had a great 2007 – my performance in Osaka [finishing sixth] showed I am going in the right direction, and it's important I don't jeopardise that by rushing this recovery process."

Farah's withdrawal will add to the competitiveness at the European trial race in Sefton Park, Liverpool, tomorrow when the second UK Cross Challenge event of the winter season takes place.