Mo Farah will contest his first track 10,000m in almost three years when he lines up at the European 10,000m Cup in Birmingham on Saturday (5) evening.
Farah made his breakthrough at this distance in this same competition eleven years ago when he struck individual gold in Marseille in 27:28.66, a precursor to an incredible 15 major track titles at either global or continental level across the next eight seasons.
Now 38, Farah will be looking to further embellish this figure later this summer at the Tokyo Olympic Games but first and foremost, the Brit still needs to secure the Olympic qualifying time of 27:28.
In the context of the European 10,000m Cup, the Brits begin as overwhelming favourites for their first ever team title and it isn’t wholly inconceivable the home contingent could even take a sweep of the individual medals.
While Farah is by far the most credentialed of the British cohort, two runners in the team have already secured the Olympic qualifying standard in recent months: Marc Scott and Sam Atkin. The European 10,000m Cup also combines the British Olympic Trials for the distance and the top two finishers will secure automatic qualification for Tokyo assuming they have the qualifying time.
Scott holds the European-leading marks at both 5000m (13:10.13) and 10,000m (27:10.41) and Atkin, who is also based in the United States, lopped a significant chunk off his lifetime best with 27:26.58 last December to sneak inside the Olympic qualifying standard of 27:28.
Like Farah, Jake Smith will be chasing the Olympic 10,000m qualifying time off the back of some outstanding road performances in recent weeks. Smith created headlines in April when he won the Cheshire Marathon in 2:11:00 despite only being recruited as a pacemaker.
The biggest threats to the British contingent from an individual perspective will be provided by France’s Morhad Amdouni and Bashir Abdi from Belgium, the gold and silver medallists from the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships.
Amdouni and Abdi have strong track backgrounds as proven by their performances in the German capital three years ago although both of them have shifted their focus onto the roads since then.
Amdouni was the best European finisher at the World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia last October when he finished eighth in 59:40 and Abdi lowered his Belgian marathon record to 2:04:49 in the Tokyo Marathon last March to move to second on the European all-time list, one place ahead of Farah.
Amdouni is part of a strong French team which also includes Florian Carvalho and fellow sub-28 minute performer Francois Barrer while the Spaniards, who have accrued an unmatched 10 team titles, have selected another strong team including Chiki Perez and Carlos Mayo.
Yemaneberhan Crippa won the individual title two years ago and also led Italy to a surprise title in the team race. Crippa isn’t competing this year although his older brother Nekganet will ensure the family is represented on the Italian team.
The championship record could certainly come under threat on Saturday evening. The mark is still held by Spain’s Fabian Roncero with 27:14.44 from the second edition of the event in 1998 which was held under its initial alias of the European 10,000 Metres Challenge.
Live results can be found here.