But in Barcelona it is the international opposition which has to be beaten. Yobes Ondieki, the runaway winner at last year's world championships, and the Ethiopian Fita Bayessa look like medal favourites. Denmark is five seconds adrift of Ondieki's world-leading time, but last year there was a 12- second margin to be made up.
Denmark can take some confidence from that, but also from having been through the championship mangle a year ago. Running three rounds in the 5,000 metres is a different test to winning a one-off race. In Tokyo last year he finished ninth, in distress from dehydration.
'I vowed that I would prepare better,' he says. Not only for the heat. 'I'm a lot stronger. My training throughout the winter was geared towards running three races. Another year at the event for the 23-year old Denmark can only have helped.
'It's a matter of waiting and seeing,' says Denmark, cagily. Certainly that will be the best strategy for the heat and semi-final, to conserve resources for the final. Once there, tactics will have to be thrown to the wind in the attempt to stay in Ondieki's slipstream. The semi-finals are tomorrow and the final is on Saturday.