Beneath the smouldering cauldron that will light up Rio come the summer, Mo Farah will aim to add further lustre to an already luminescent career with a haul of Olympic medals to complement the pair of glittering golds he secured in London four years ago.
By then, yesterday’s Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow will be a distant memory but on these priceless foundations he will construct his bid. And with a return to winning ways in the 3000 metres after the rare but piercing sensation of defeat in Edinburgh last month, the 32-year-old will sleep a little easier before he returns once more to seclusion to prepare for his tilt at the world half-marathon title in Cardiff next month.
“Losing in Edinburgh hurt me,” admitted Farah, who was runner-up in the annual cross-country in Holyrood Park. “Every athlete hurts when you lose. You don’t think about it too much but you think about it enough that the next time, you do something about it.” Sweat and toil in the hills of Ethiopia was his solution.
Not yet at the absolute prime he will soon pursue, the Londoner exuded patience yesterday as he tracked familiar foe Augustine Choge before unleashing his familiar assault, even if thoughts of a world record, or even a personal best, had been abandoned. “At 2k I could see it slowing down,” he confessed. “Once it slowed down, I was down by three seconds. It would have been hard to go on my own and to go for it.”
Instead, he gave the sell-out crowd what they paid for. The rowdy reaction was food for thought for the council members from European Athletics in attendance, seven weeks before they decide on whether this venue will host the 2019 European Indoor Championships. And there was a sense of shifting the spotlight back towards competition rather than crisis after a winter that has seen the sport dragged into the mire through one scandal after another.
With fears that Kenya’s lax anti-doping policies could mean they are excluded from the Olympics in the weeks to come, Farah’s path to immortality in Rio could be smoothed. He will not allow suspicions to cloud his mind. “It’s important you don’t put doubts in your head. You know how much work you’ve done. And you think about what you need to win.”
Farah, deliberately, has opted out of the forthcoming World Indoor Championships in Portland but others with medal ambitions took the opportunity to test their readiness. World 200m champion Dafne Schippers pulverised the field in the women’s 60m with British prospect Dina Asher-Smith suffering a rare blip in sixth, while Sean Safo-Antwi shaded Richard Kilty in the men’s final in a duel that suggests they will tussle once again with the latter’s title on the line next month.
There are similar prospects of a compatriotic confrontation in the women’s long jump where Lorraine Ugen outshone world silver medallist Shara Proctor with a best of 6.80m. “Not only are we battling at major championships but we’re battling for the No.1 spot,” Texas-based Ugen said. “Shara has it at the moment but we’re all trying to be the best in Britain as well as the best in the world. It helps you to train harder.”
Laura Muir will eschew the lure of Oregon to concentrate both on Rio and on her veterinary studies but the Perthshire prospect signed off her indoor season with second place to Melissa Bishop in the 800m in a lifetime best of 2:00.70. “I can’t do any better than that,” she said. “I’m close to my outdoor time as well. I made it hard work for myself but it was good. It’s difficult because I’ve only run twice and they were by myself. Here I paced myself and I was up against the best in the world.”
Steph Twell, however, will feel a temptation to reconsider giving the world indoors a miss after slicing ten seconds off her previous best in coming fifth in the 3000m as Kenya’s Nancy Chepkwemoi snatched victory. Regardless, this was a positive portent with the Scot, who has been plagued by injuries in recent times, now able to look ahead with some confidence. “I’ve had to be more cautious and there’s still work to do,” she said. “But I’ve got to be really happy with that.”
Elsewhere Paralympic long jump champion Markus Rehm made a subtle point by topping the standings with a leap of 8.10m, a marker laid down for the German as he lobbies for permission to compete in the Olympics.