After failing the 10,000m qualifying time in Birmingham… Mo Farah now has only BLIND HOPE – Tokyo seems like a distant dream for the four-time Olympic champion
- Mo Farah’s chances of making it to the Tokyo Olympics are hanging by a thread
- He failed to qualify in Saturday’s European 10k Cup race
- It was a field the four-time Olympic champion would have erased sooner
- He struggled with ankle problems and hopes he can still make it to Tokyo
His mouth said one thing, but his body said another. As always with the aging process, it was the body that made the more compelling argument.
The bleak view at this point is that Sir Mo Farah has reached the end of the line. His astonishing failure to make the Olympic qualifying time in Birmingham on Saturday night has left the 38-year-old just three weeks in which he must somehow find a solution to an ankle problem and 22 seconds of 10,000m speed.
There is a selection deadline of the night of June 27, and if he misses it, he’s out. He has weathered storms before, and during the height of the criticism surrounding his previous relationship with Alberto Salazar, he has always performed.
Mo Farah did not make the Olympic qualifying time in the European 10k Cup race
The four-time Olympic champion has three weeks to qualify and currently has an ankle problem
Step after step, step after step, medal after medal, the four-time Olympic champion made an art of succeeding under great pressure.
But this is different and it may be his toughest challenge yet to get to that plane, given how far off the pace at the European 10k Cup in Birmingham.
He had to run for 27min and 28sec, but all he could muster was 27:49.83. He finished eighth, behind two Frenchmen, two Spaniards, a German, a Belgian and another Briton in Marc Scott.
This was a field Farah would have erased in his prime, but after his first long-distance defeat since 2011, all he was left with was blind hope. To his credit, he approached the press, which is no guarantee in the sport now, but there was a void in his tone when he said he believes he can go to Tokyo and win there.
When asked if he could still disrupt such huge opportunities and land a fifth gold, he said, “I believe so. It will take courage and balls to go out and mingle with the boys.
Farah, now 38, is said to have destroyed the field in his prime from the past two Olympic Games
“At the same time, if it’s in a situation like now (with the left ankle injury), then there’s no chance, but I believe if I get my head down in the next three or four weeks, knuckles down, this little out the road and hopefully we’ll be fine.’
Positive thinking will no doubt help, but the colder reality of Farah’s age and injury makes qualifying unforgiving alone, let alone any ensuing battles with brilliant Ugandan pair Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo.
There are logistics to consider, with so few 10,000m races available – even less with a field that can help Farah hit the speeds needed. One option is a meeting in Leiden, the Netherlands, next weekend.
“It won’t be as easy as saying I can,” said Farah, who does not plan to compete in the 5,000 meters in Tokyo. ‘There is a lot of work to be done. The important thing is that you understand why and I know it. It showed in Birmingham that I am not myself.
Not many 10,000m races are available NOW for Farah to make it to qualifying time
“It would be painful to miss something, but at the same time I don’t want to just team up or be number 1 in Britain, I want to go out and challenge those guys.
“It takes less than 26 minutes to win (gold). Can I be in that form? I believe I can do it, but the most important thing is to arrange this and I have three weeks. Time is running out. This won’t be the end.’
Since this was his last Olympic campaign, those last words were less than convincing.