Farah predicts return to golden age as focus shifts to 5,000m

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The Independent Online

The dynamic duo of British distance running were back in the Montjuic Olympic arena early yesterday evening, collecting the rewards for their efforts in the thriller of a men's 10,000m final the night before. Mo Farah was presented with his gold medal and Chris Thompson with his silver.

It was the first time that Britain had ever delivered a "one" in the men's 10,000m in the European Championships, let alone a one-two. And there could be more historic stuff to follow before the 20th edition of the quadrennial continental competition is through. Farah and Thompson will be back in the 1992 Olympic arena tonight, running in the heats of the 5,000m.

"Do you think you can do the double?" Farah was asked. Before the Somali-born Londoner could answer, Thompson interjected. "I do," the Barrow-born runner said.

"Do you?" Farah said. "I will give it all I can give. I'm happy with what I did last night but that's all behind me now. But, you know, it's not going to be easy."

Not as easy as Tuesday night, certainly. Having toyed with Ayad Lamdassem, gesturing playfully to the Spanish champion and the home crowd, Farah can expect some pointedly keen competition from the representatives of the host nation when it comes to the final on Saturday night. As suggested in these pages yesterday morning, the Catalan parliament decided to outlaw bullfighting when they met in the regional capital yesterday. Whether Farah's treatment of the poor, helpless Lamdassem bore any influence is open to question but for Jesus España, who beat the Briton to the 5,000m gold in Gothenburg four years ago by 0.09sec, and Alemayehu Bezabeh, who pipped him to the European cross country title last December, there will be something of a score to settle for Spain.

"There'll be a lot of tough guys in the 5,000m," Farah acknowledged. "I'll have to go out and be strong."

In the 66-year history of the European Championships, only four men have been strong enough to achieve the men's 5,000m-10,000m double: the great Czech soldier Emil Zatopek in 1950, Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak of Poland in 1958, the wickedly fast-finishing Finn Juha Vaatainen in 1971 and Salvatore Antibo of Italy 1990. If Farah can manage to accomplish the feat, he can expect his public profile to rise.

"What me and Thommo achieved here in the 10,000m has never been done through history," he said. "When Steve Cram, Steve Ovett and Seb Coe were winning gold medals and breaking world records, athletics was really big in Britain. It's died down a bit but I think this is our time now in athletics. You've got myself, Chris, Michael Rimmer, Jenny Meadows and Jemma Simpson. I believe that we can be as good as Britain was back in the old days."

What Farah has been doing over the past few years, steadily closing the gap to the world-beating Kenyans and Ethiopians, has been a powerful inspiration to Thompson, who suffered several frustrating years of injury after winning the 5,000m title ahead of Farah at the European Under 23 Championships in 2003. In the aftermath of the 10,000m final, the 29-year-old described the race as "the best half an hour of my life" – which may or may not have come as a surprise to his girlfriend, Jemma Simpson, a genuine medal hope in the women's 800m final tomorrow night.

"She doesn't know about that, so if we could keep that between us that would be great," Thompson said yesterday to the British press. "I didn't say it was the best two minutes of my life..."

Brits in Barcelona


18:40: Britain's Phillips Idowu looks to add to his World and Commonwealth titles as he takes to the board in the triple jump final. But Frenchman Teddy Tamgho will stand in his way.

20:45: British hopes rest with the ever improving Laura Turner, although European record-holder Christine Arron and Norway's Ezinne Okparebo are more likely winners.


18:50 110m hurdles final: Will Sharman hopes to improves on his fourth place in last year's World Championships, while Andy Turner seeks an improvement on his Bronze from Gothenburg.

20:10 Jenny Meadows and Jemma Simpson, who will be looking to go one better than her 10,000m silver-medal winning boyfriend Chris Thompson, take part in the 800m final.

20:25 Martin Rooney and Martin Bingham impressed in their heats and are medal prospects in 400m final.

21:00 Andy Baddeley and Tom Lancashire could come up aganist home favourites Diego Casado and Diego Ruiz in the 1,500m final.


18:35 In-form Michael Rimmer hopes to profit from the absence of Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy in the final of the 800m.

19:10 Welshman Dai Greene is the overwhelming favourite in the 400m hurdles, with countryman Rhys Williams also likely to be involved.


18:45 Winners in Gotherburg four years ago, Great Britain face a fight to hold onto the 4x100m relay title, with Italy, Germany and especially the French providing a threat.

20:15 World silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey seeks to put back problems behind her in the 1,500m final.

20:55 Britain are favourites to take the 4x400m final All events on BBC2 and Eurosport