MO FARAH will accept nothing less than a victory in his first race of 2013 today, with the double Olympic champion acutely aware that he is now the man everyone else wants to beat.
Farah only arrived back in Britain on Thursday after a six-week training stint in Kenya, but is determined to bring the curtain down on the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham by winning over 3,000 metres at the National Indoor Arena.
“It was nice to get real training done, I’ve not done it for a long time, since just before the Olympics,” said Farah, who admitted recently he was around a month behind training partner and Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Galen Rupp.
“I have done some good training and good mileage so I am a lot further on than where I was.
“I am always motivated and I have to be even more motivated now, because when you’re at the top there are more people who want to knock you down. There are more eyes on you. After the Olympics I just wanted to spend time with my family. Then you have to go pick up the training. If I don’t, I know I’ll get beat.”
Birmingham will be Farah’s only indoor race of the season – he immediately switches to a half-marathon in New Orleans next weekend – with the main focus being the World Championships in Moscow this summer. Farah was beaten into second place by just 0.26 seconds in the 10,000m in Daegu in 2011, and although he bounced back to win gold over 5,000m, he admits that loss to Ethiopia’s unheralded Ibrahim Jeilan still hurts. “There is a World Championship in August and I want to defend my title and try to win the 10,000 this time,” he added. “That race nags away but you learn from your mistakes and I have learnt a lot from that race.”
Farah has set numerous records in Birmingham, but with a lot of miles in his legs and a less-than-stellar field against him, should be content with blowing away the cobwebs with a comfortable win. “It’s about trying to win a race,” he added. “For me, 2013, you must win because it’s the first race.”
The most competitive event on today’s schedule is likely to be the women’s 60m, with double Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica renewing her rivalry with London silver medallist Carmelita Jeter. Murielle Ahoure of the Ivory Coast, who has set the six fastest times in the world this year, is also in the line-up, along with new UK champion Asha Philip, who set a personal best of 7.15secs in Sheffield last weekend.
Fraser-Pryce and Jeter both recorded three wins over each other in 2012 and feel the likes of Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Tyson Gay should follow their example and face each other more often.
“I definitely think there should be a lot more clashes,” said Fraser-Pryce, who is remarkably racing indoors for the first time in her career at the NIA. “I don’t want to say it’s an ego thing (between the men), but I definitely think we should have more clashes for male athletes. I think it would do wonders for the sport as well.
“My coach says ‘When you go into a championship there’s not supposed to be anything different’ because you have raced these people over and over again. He’s sick and tired of people going into a major championship and suddenly feeling extra nervous, starting to have butterflies.
“When I get to the line of a major championship I’m like, ‘Well, I raced her last week in Zurich or Birmingham.’ It’s bringing back the same atmosphere.”
There will be nine Scots competing in Birmingham. David Bishop gets the opportunity to try and post the 3,000m qualifying time required to secure involvement with Team GB and NI for the European Indoors in Gothenburg early next month, while Emily Stewart and Eilish McColgan go in the women’s 3,000m.
High jumper Allan Smith and hurdler Allan Scott are involved after their silvers at the UK Championships last week. Gemma Nicol competes in a 400m ‘domestic’ race which precedes the main event, which includes Eilidh Child, while Lynsey Sharp races in the 800m in her second outing of the indoor season. Lasswade’s Guy Learmonth has been pitched into the 800m.