One way or another Mo Farah is becoming a wind-up merchant supreme. In the 1,500m heats at the Olympic trials in Birmingham last Friday, his decision to celebrate some 100m from the line rattled the veteran Anthony Whiteman. In the 5,000m final on the opening day of the European Championships in Helsinki yesterday his gradual cranking up of the pace proved far too much for all 24 of his rivals.
With one month and one day to go before the start of the Olympics, this was Farah back in the kind of killer form that made him a cut above the best of the rest of the world's distance runners in 2011. The Londoner who took 5,000m gold and 10,000m silver at the World Championships in Daegu last summer might have been blunted during the 2012 indoor season, failing to get on to the rostrum at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March, but he has won all five of his races in the Olympic outdoor season and has clearly regained the sharpness he will need against the Ethiopians and Kenyans when he goes for double Olympic gold on home ground in August.
Content to bide his time in the pack in the opening stages, Farah hit the front at the halfway mark and remained there, steadily winding up the pace until he finished off the opposition with a 53.69sec last lap . The 29-year-old Briton crossed the line in 13min 29.91sec, almost two seconds clear of runner-up Arne Gabius of Germany, this time saving his "Mobot" celebration until victory had been secured.
"I'm very pleased with my race today," Farah said. "It was a good warm-up for London. That's the big one."
Farah, whose final pre-Olympic race will be the 5,000m at the Aviva London Grand Prix on 13 July, won the 5,000m and 10,000m titles at the last European Championships in Barcelona two years but will not be defending his continental crown at the longer distance. Britain top the medal table after one final but the four other Britons who struck gold in Spain in 2010 – Andy Turner, Dai Greene, Phillips Idowu and Jessica Ennis – are concentrating on preparing for Olympic battle.
Most of the British team in the Finnish capital are attempting to secure last-gasp qualification for London. There was heartache in the opening morning session for 2008 Olympic finalist Jeanette Kwakye, who trailed home seventh in her 100m heat in 11.98sec. "I can't start on the line in London if I'm going to be in that kind of shape and form," the Londoner said. "I wouldn't do myself justice and psychologically it doesn't help. I'm devastated."
Mark Lewis-Francis made it through to the semi-finals of the men's 100m but then bowed out, finishing sixth in his race in 10.36sec. Harry Aikines-Aryeetey was runner up to defending champion Christophe Lemaitre in his semi, clocking 10.30sec.